GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a veritable library of flip-flops. As such, it is not his positions but the fact that he has reversed on so many that is quickly defining his campaign. Last night on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, host Piers Morgan directly confronted Romney about a series of policy positions that he has slip-and-slided on over the years. First up, abortion. As Matt Yglesias noted this morning, despite a passionate pro-choice defense in 2002, Romney again asserted that he is now staunchly pro-life and defended his flip-flop by noting Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush flipped as well.
Next up, gay rights. Despite promising to be better on LGBT rights than Ted Kennedy, Romney’s LGBT record is questionable. When asked about his general position last night, Romney declared himself to be “in favor of gay rights” except when it comes to gay marriage. Romney conceded that “I read now and then that I’ve changed my mind on gay rights” but added that “it’s simply not true. I am in favor of gay rights, but I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.” When Morgan pointed out that it seems Romney is thus in favor of some gay rights (like employment non-discrimination) “but not all.” Romney said that his position has always remained the same and it is the LGBT community that changed its position on “what they wanted”:
MORGAN: When you say — if you don’t mind me saying — when you say I’m in favor of gay rights, you’re not. You’re in favor of some, but not all.
ROMNEY: What happened was that the —
MORGAN: Am I right?
ROMNEY: — the gay community — the gay community changed their perspective as to what they wanted. When I ran for governor, one of the big issues was marriage, gay marriage. My opponent said she’d sign a bill in favor of gay marriage. I said I would not, that I oppose same-sex marriage. At the same time, I would advance the — the, if you will, the efforts not to discriminate against people who are gay.
Setting aside Romney’s bizarre blame of the LGBT community for his own inconsistency, Morgan then asked whether Romney’s religion was at the core of his anti-gay marriage stance. When Romney refused to reveal the Morman position on homosexuality (“I am not a spokesman for my church”), Morgan asked whether Romney “personally” thinks “homosexuality is a sin.” Romney then completely shut down, offering only “nice try”:
MORGAN: Do you personally think homosexuality is a sin?
ROMNEY: Nice try, but I’m not going to get into —
MORGAN: That’s a valid question, isn’t it?
ROMNEY: It’s a valid question and my answer is nice try.
Romney is continually insisting that his opposition to same-sex marriage is not rooted in religion. Indeed, in this interview he stated, “You don’t begin to apply the doctrines of a religion to the responsibility for guiding a nation.” However, as TP LGBT editor Igor Volsky noted yesterday, Romney launched a religious defense of “traditional marriage” in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2004. Speaking against the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage, Romney said, “Are the philosophies and teachings of all the world’s major religions simply wrong? Or is it more likely that four people among the seven that sat in a court in Massachusetts have erred? I believe that is the case.”
Whatever his positions in the past may have been, it’s clear that Romney is committed to his newly found right-wing principles in order to pander to the conservative base and will likely hold those positions if elected. However, as Yglesias noted, if the right-wing conservatives are actually interested in the character of their candidate, they should take his entire career into account.