As campaign progresses, Romney’s past positions on social issues come into focus

Will Rahn | Senior Editor

During his time as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney worked to assure pro-choice groups that he would protect abortion rights and hinted he could help soften the GOP’s stand against the practice, The Washington Post reports.

“You need someone like me in Washington,” Romney reportedly told several members of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts in 2002. Melissa Kogut, the group’s executive director at the time, said that as the 45-minute long meeting came to a close Romney became “emphatic that the Republican Party was not doing themselves a service by being so vehemently anti-choice.”

According to those present in the meeting, Romney refused to call himself either “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” but said any attempts to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision would be a “serious mistake for our country.”

“We felt good about the interview,” one NARAL official told the Post. “He seemed genuine.”

As a Republican politician in a deeply liberal state, Romney was known to tack left on social issues as he concentrated on improving the commonwealth’s economy. During his campaign for Senate in 1994 against long-serving Democrat Ted Kennedy, Romney advertised himself as a moderate on social issues and reached out to the gay community.

Later, during his campaign for governor, Romney told the Log Cabin Republicans he was a “token Republican” who could push for certain domestic partner benefits.

“I will support and endorse efforts to provide those domestic partnership benefits to gay and lesbian couples,” he said. One participant in the meeting said Romney “left the impression of being friendly to the concept of some sort of same-sex union and not being vehemently opposed to gay marriage.”

“There’s something to be said for having a Republican who supports civil rights in this broader context, including sexual orientation,” Romney told Bay Windows, a Boston gay magazine, in 1994. “When Ted Kennedy speaks on gay rights, he’s seen as an extremist. When Mitt Romney speaks on gay rights he’s seen as a centrist and a moderate.”

“It’s a little like if Eugene McCarthy was arguing in favor of recognizing China, people would have called him a nut,” Romney continued. “But when Richard Nixon does it, it becomes reasonable. When Ted says it, it’s extreme; when I say it, it’s mainstream.”

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