No Momentum for Mitt

With all his money, good looks, high-ranking Republican friends like the Bushes, and even a seemingly storybook marriage to a popular and well-liked beauty, it is still hard for Mitt Romney to stand out from — let alone pull ahead of — the bizarre 2008 GOP presidential field. It's not that everybody loves Rudy Giuliani, Sen. John McCain or any of the others. At this point there is just no momentum for Mitt.

One of the problems is Romney's lack of identity with any signature issue. He could have made it healthcare, after helping usher in a groundbreaking, bipartisan healthcare reform in Massachusetts, but he chose not to. He can't make abortion his thing, or opposing gay marriage for that matter; there are only a few primary voters who truly believe his precarious, even
if religious, conversions on both of these thorny social issues.

Romney thinks he has found a winner in campaign finance reform. By bashing the landmark McCain/Feingold law wherever he goes, he gets the twofer — slap McCain and excite the crowds who simply loathe how the system has been restricted. I read with interest his recent post on the Townhall blog, in which he touts the law as an incumbent retention device written by the "back-scratching political class" in Washington that has driven political spending "into secret corners" and handed more power and influence to "hidden special interests."

Unfortunately, one can readily access enough contradictory statements from Romney's pre-conversion period of his career to find that campaign finance reform is indeed another one of Mitt's Murky Issues. The Boston Globe — a treasure trove of Romney contradictions — reported in 1994 that he backed spending limits for congressional campaigns and supported abolishing PACs, limitations so harsh they didn't make it into the bipartisan campaign reform act of 2002. The Quincy Patriot Ledger and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette also reported that Romney, who supported clean elections, once proposed taxing contributions to help publicly fund campaigns.

Warning to former Sen. Fred Thompson, an early pioneer and supporter of McCain/Feingold: I know it feels great to get those crowds on their feet with this one, but before you do, get your story straight.