Mitt Romney’s held many positions on guns. As a candidate for governor of Massachusetts, Romney offered unequivocal support for gun regulation: “We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts — I support them. I won’t chip away at them. I believe they help protect us, and provide for our safety.” As governor, he made these laws even stronger, signing into law a permanent ban on assault rifles.
The same thing can be said about Romney’s views on immigration. During the GOP presidential primary, Romney frequently staked out the most extreme position on immigration of any of the major candidates. He promised to make undocumented immigrants’ lives so miserable that they flee the country. He promised to veto the DREAM Act, and he even campaigned with the author of Alabama and Arizona’s harsh immigration laws — on Martin Luther King Day. Romney started backtracking away from those positions as well, once he locked down his party’s nomination.
Romney may now be preparing to Etch-a-Sketch his views on guns and immigration even further. The GOP candidate is currently courting an endorsement from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one the nation’s leading advocates for both gun regulation and liberalized immigration policy:
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have reached a rare consensus: They are both determined to score the endorsement of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, whose name is all but synonymous with Wall Street clout and nonpartisan politics.
On Tuesday, Romney showed up at the mayor’s philanthropic foundation in Manhattan for a secret breakfast meeting. Over coffee and juice, Romney made clear that he was there to pick the mayoral brain: “Tell me what’s on your mind,” he told Bloomberg, according to aides briefed on the 30-minute discussion, which touched on immigration, gun control and education policy.
However, Bloomberg is not simply a supporter of more robust gun regulation — he may be the nation’s leading advocate on these issues. The Mayor supports closing loopholes so that everyone who buys a gun undergoes a background check. He led a national charge to roll back the so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws that played such a significant role in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. And he co-chairs Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which describes ensuring criminals do not illegally obtain guns as a matter of “life and death.”
Similarly, Bloomberg is a major supporter of the kinds of progressive immigration policies Romney shunned as a primary candidate. Bloomberg proudly describes New York as America’s most immigrant-friendly city. He expanded legal services in his city for immigrants. And he once described our current, restrictive immigration policies as “suicide.”
Now, let’s be clear. Bloomberg is right, and Romney has at times been very wrong, on both the need for sensible gun regulation and the need to repair our immigration policy. If Bloomberg succeeds in convincing Romney to abandon some of his past views, that would be a very positive development, regardless of who Bloomberg ultimately winds up endorsing.
Given Romney’s long history of Etch-a-Sketching, however, it is unlikely that any position Romney announces today will remain his position tomorrow — especially after his uncertain allies in the NRA and the anti-immigrant community react to Romney’s announcement in disgust.