By Hans Bernard of Portland, Oregon. Hans is vice president of Hubbell Communications and previously served as deputy legislative director for Governor Ted Kulongoski.
Recently Karl Rove commented that he doesn’t understand Oregon but predicted that it could be a swing state. During the Convention GOP Chair Allen Alley promised that Oregon would be the "New Jersey of the West", a reference to the rise of Republican Governor Chris Christie.
If the Mitt Romney who served as Governor of Massachusetts was the standard bearer of the Republican Party, not the Mitt Romney who was given the nomination last night, both of these predictions might be true.
Romney’s record as Governor might not be appealing to Blue Oregon readers, but it would make the great basis for a moderate campaign. As Governor, Romney signed into law legislation that would provide near universal health care coverage. He committed to protecting current laws around access to reproductive health care for women, and supported common sense bans on assault rifles.
Romney’s record as the nominee provides a stark contrast to his record as Governor.
For example, in 2006 Romney worked with the legislature to pass a health insurance mandate that included a penalty provision. The bill expanded the size of government by establishing a new regulatory authority and within four years over 98% of Massachusetts residents had health insurance. Today, Romney is running on a promise to repeal a law that is based on this model, and will over time have similar effects on a national scale.
On Choice, Romney has never been a champion. But as a Harvard Law graduate he understood precedent and vowed to uphold current law on the issue while Governor. Many would argue, including myself, that he broke this promise while in office but he repeatedly was on record as supporting exceptions to abortion restrictions in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is threatened.
There was a time when Governor Romney would have probably agreed with many Americans that abortions should be safe, legal and rare. Today candidate Romney seems to have no problem with the federal government inserting itself into a private medical conversation between a woman and her health care providers.
Finally, on gun control Governor Romney signed legislation banning assault rifles in Massachusetts and said at the time that "These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.” The party platform adopted this week takes a slightly different approach saying, “We oppose legislation that is intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the ill- considered Clinton gun ban.”
Again, the candidate and the Governor seem to be at odds.
Mitt Romney’s problem is not that the American people don’t know him. Mitt Romney’s problem is that the American people are confused about whether they are voting for the Mitt Romney the Governor, or Mitt Romney the champion of a party platform that is grossly out of step with mainstream American values.
Make no mistake, this election is not over, and Republican leaning interest groups will far outspend their Democratic counterparts to distort the President’s record. Each of us who support the President need to give time and money to ensure that his campaign is able to remind voters of the numerous accomplishments of the last four years.
But I would hope, and yes I still have the audacity to hope, that the American people – and especially Oregonians will be able to see the Change in Mitt Romney. As long as we see that change here in Oregon I am confident we won’t become a swing state or the New Jersey of the West.
Aug. 31, 2012 | |