Years before he was a Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney filmed an advertisement in support of Rocky Anderson, the liberal mayor of Salt Lake City.
“I’m Mitt Romney, and I can tell you Rocky Anderson is a strong leader and a great mayor,” Romney said in the 2003 campaign advertisement. “That guy never stops.”
Fast-forward to 2011, and Anderson, who left the Democratic Party this year in protest, is running as a third-party presidential candidate on the newly formed Justice Party ticket.
Anderson is an admitted fan of the Occupy Wall Street protests. He’s said before that former President George W. Bush should have been impeached.
In an interview with The Daily Caller on Monday, he expressed a desire for universal health care and warned about the dangers of climate change.
It’s an association that won’t exactly be greeted warmly by conservatives.
“I had great respect for the moderate, reasonable, Mitt Romney,” Anderson told TheDC. “The positions that he’s taking now are vastly different than what I think the man who was running for governor of Massachusetts believed in.”
In the 2003 video, Romney told voters in Utah that he and Anderson “worked together on the Olympics” and “his passion, his energy helped made the games a success for Salt Lake City and for the world.”
“He’s innovative. He’s gutsy,” Romney said. “And he’s a team builder. That’s why he’s such a great leader. In my view, Salt Lake City is a better place because of Rocky.”
The website The Right Scoop posted that video in November. Video of Anderson endorsing Romney in the 2002 Massachusetts governor race — a tough contest in a blue state — also surfaced on the website.
“For me, the person is more important than partisan politics,” Anderson said of Romney in 2002. “So take it from this liberal Democrat, if you want an amazing leader, vote for Mitt Romney.”
On Monday, Anderson told TheDC that he left the Democratic Party because “both parties have helped sustain the corrupt system and have been sustained by it.”
“There’s no question for instance that we would have universal healthcare in this country like the rest of the industrialized world if it were not for the corrupting influence of money from the insurance industry,” Anderson said.
Continuing, the candidate said, “Our budget would not be in the horrific condition it’s in and we would be investing more in education, innovation, research and development were it not for the corrupt influence of money flowing from military contractors.”
Anderson said he’s “appalled when I hear anybody — including Mitt Romney — say for instance that we should double the size of Guantanamo.”
“He hasn’t stood up against torture,” he said. “He’s entirely changed his position on issues like choice and stem cell research, rights for gays and lesbians.”
“I still feel like he’s a friend,” Anderson added. “I haven’t seen him in years. But as a public figure, he’s almost unrecognizable to me compared to who he was back during the time of the Olympics and while he was running for governor of Massachusetts.”
A Romney spokeswoman did not respond to an inquiry for this story.