Mitt Romney Declares Self Conservative Republican

Mitt Romney has declared himself the great conservative hope for 2008.

In an interview with The Examiner, Romney described himself as more conservative than Republican rivals McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on a variety of issues. “We’re in a different place on immigration; we’re in a different place on campaign reform; we’re in a different place on same—sex marriage; we’re in a different place on the president’s policy on interrogation of detainees,” Romney said. “I’m a conservative Republican, there’s no question about that,” he said. “I’m at a different place than the other two.”

It’s rather difficult to get think of the governor of Massachussetts, home of such liberal poster boys as Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank, as a conservative. Still, he may be more socially conservative than the frontrunners. Giuliani is a moderate, to be sure. McCain is solidly conservative on most issues, although his tendency to grandstand on issues where he triangulate against his fellow Republicans to garner positive press often makes it seem otherwise.

Regardless, it’s amazing how quickly we’ve shifted gears into 2008 talk. Those elected in the current cycle don’t even take office for several weeks.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I see Romney is continuing the recent Republican fad of confusing being a populist with being a conservative.

  2. I agree that you need to define the term ‘conservative republican’. Are we talking the ‘main street conservative’, ‘national security conservative’, ‘social issues conservative’, ‘small government conservative’, ‘individual rights and responsibility conservative’ or what.

    It would be hard to get to the left of McCain on free speech (Free Speech for me but not for thee). There is certainly room on McCain’s right on immigration. I don’t see the disingenuous position Romney sees between “I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states.” and “I believe that gay marriage should not be legal.”. That pretty much sums up my position on the issue, though I wouldn’t have trouble with a federal amendment on the issue (given that it would entail approval of the amendment through the states and the senators/representatives). I think it would be an issue best handled at the state level.

    I am surprised that he didn’t also highlight judicial confirmations given the gang of 14 and 2 out of the 3 republicans in the gang lost in 2006.

    My biggest objection to Romney is what does he bring to the table. I don’t see him having a legitimate chance of carrying California (55 EV), New York (31 EV), Illinois (21 EV), Pennsylvania (21 EV), Michigan (17 EV), New Jersey (15 EV), Massachusetts (12 EV), Washington (11 EV), Maryland (10 EV), or Wisconsin (10 EV). These ten states represent 203 of the 251 EV Kerry took in 2004. They represented 209 of the 266 EV Gore took, but that was with the old census. A republican that can make in roads into this core of 10 states and hold the rest is what I am looking for (and strong national security stance).

    I don’t see Romney being able to deliver his own state of Massachusetts. Rudy has a chance of winning NY and NJ (nearly 20% of the blue state EV right there). He might have legs elsewhere. McCain has old media hype that he may be able to make a run at some of these states, but I think just as the NYT suddenly remembered Abscam when Murtha became inconvenient after the election, I think the old media will sing a different tune when McCain runs for president. How much and how quickly that will take the shine off McCain is an interesting question.

  3. TimC says:

    Sad that Romney defines himself largely by how he would discriminate against gay people. Is that all there is to being a conservative?

  4. Steven Plunk says:

    Isn’t that what it’s all about, the shine? Rather than choose among leaders with good ideas we now are forced to choose amongst those with good hair and no skeletons in the closet. It is a shame most of our leaders carry such baggage that repulses us. Yet we hold our noses and vote for lesser of evils.

    The Republicans, strike that, both parties need to do a serious search to find candidates who can lead and are without a history of corruption, abuse of power, or incompetence. It would take a while but such a search could yield a winner worthy of our votes.

    Instead we are left to choose among those who can win a state or district where pork matters to the voters, good looks count for more than policy initiatives, and even family name is enough to get into office. The choices are seldom good.

    Both parties should grow up and get candidates who are worthy rather than just electable. The ultimate winners would be the citizens.

    Romney’s appeal appears to be lack of scandal, good looks and more or less some success as a governor. That puts him as a front runner in today’s climate.

    While his stance on gay marriage angers some it also endears many who believe thousands of years of tradition should not be tossed aside so quickly and without the consent of the governed.

    Many things can make up the bonafide credentials of a conservative and he has some of what is necessary. I doubt there is a package that will satisfy everyone.

  5. LaurenceB says:

    It struck me that Romney’s list of issues on which he differs from the more moderate Republicans, also serves as a concise list of issues upon which I disagree with Romney. If his purpose was to make me prefer his counterparts – Mission Accomplished!

  6. DL says:

    I’m confused -How is it that we can refer to those who believe in gun control(the violation of the 2cd. amendment) -abortion (the murder of 50 million innocents) illegal immigration rewards for lawbreakers (destruction in the rule of law and loss of sovereignity”, or McCain Feingold “loss of free speech) as being “Moderate?”

  7. legion says:

    What amazes me is the long list of GOP B-listers and wannabes who looked at the results of the mid-term elections, the state of Iraq, the uncountable corruption problems, the economy, etc, etc… and still think:

    “We didn’t win because we weren’t conservative _enough_!

  8. TheHat says:

    “McCain solid Conservative.”
    No. Not a chance. Never.
    McCain is an Illusionist. First you see the Conservative. Then you see the Liberal. Then you see the Moderate. When you look at his actions…he is solidly anti-Conservative. What Supreme Court judges did he help get elected. Answer: He was in the gang of 14 and among those leading the fight against Conservative judges. Who made it possible for George Sorros (sp?) to spend billions against George Bush? Answer: {my foul language} McCain.

    McCain has no chance to ever be elected by Conservatives. We know who he is and what he has done to us.

  9. Steven Plunk says:

    Legion’s point is well taken. The mistake here is that the Republicans were not principled in the conservative issues they stand upon.

    Becoming more conservative means nothing if you can’t stick to your guns on the basics. Voter disgust could have been a result of that weakness coupled with scandals.

  10. Christopher says:

    “McCain is solidly conservative on most issues”?!? LOL! Don’t make me laugh! (but I guess I already did)

    YAJ, why do you think Romney can’t win California? They know him well there. And Mass would elect him as well-hard not to when the guy is your gov. Coming from Mass he would attract NY voters. I think the guy is great in every respect, he is a great conservative! Oh, except for that bogus cult religion of his. But…I am willing to overlook (seriously, I am).

  11. The Big Giant Head says:

    Fear him! Have you heard of any of the oaths that he took in the mormon temple, which no nonmormon can enter? He has sworn all his authority, property, gifts, etc. over to the mormon church. As a president, he would be Gordon Hinkley’s puppet. Gordon Hinkley is scary. If you don’t believe me, go here

  12. Brandon Hinds says:

    I have been watching the list of candidates for the GOP 2008 Presidential nomination ever since the 2004 election. I have looked at where they stand on issues, how they have voted on issues, and looked for everything possible that was negative about them. I have also looked for everything that would make them a good candidate and what part of the nation they would do well in.

    Massachusetts Governor Willard Mitchel Romney is by far the most well rounded Conservative candidate that is running in this election, unless of course Newt Gingrich were to actually throw his hat into the ring. Romney also has no obvious baggage, you would have to dig pretty deep to find anything of any use against him.

    The only problem anyone would have with Romney is his faith, the fact that he is a Mormon. Yet, the last time I checked the Constitution of the United States, religious tests for a presidential candidate (or any candidate for that matter).

    Take a look at his handling of the 2002 winter olympics after the series of scandals that had made a mockery of the entire Olympic Commission. They were in enormous debt, ridden with scandal, and it almost seemed as though the games were not even going to be held. Romney was brought in and turned averything around, they were operating under budget, and then 9/11 hit. Security became Romney’s #1 priority and he was able to co-ordinate the most well organized, successful, and safest olympic games in recorded history. He was able to do it all under budget.

    He has brought back numerous companies from the brink of going under and made them flourish beyond even his own expectations.

    He was elected in the most liberal state in America without sacrificing his principles in order to do so. Some might say he’s pro-choice, but they don’t know the full story. He once felt that he should not tamper with the laws on the books as they were regarding abortion because the US supreme court upheld the procedure. Personally however he was firmly pro-life. Then his sister-in-law died from an abortion procedure and since then he has been adamantly oppossed to abortion.

    He was also amazingly able to take a state that had been known for incredibly high taxes and enormous corruption, a state with a $3 billion deficit, and produced a $300 million surplus. How you may ask? By cutting taxes, reducing the size of the government, and getting rid of MA government’s wasteful spending.

    He has also stood firm on gay marriage, he has been firmly in support of the surveilance program, the war on terror, the battle for Iraq, the building of a fence/wall on the southern border, the strengthening of our borders, and reforming our immigration policy. He has highly oppossed amnesty for illegals and has used the line item vetoe to remove unecessary earmarks and entitlements.

    Can any of the other Republican candidates produce such an excelent resume?