Mass Revolt

Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts just six years ago. Today he’s so unpopular here he’s barely bothering to campaign in the state. There are reasons for that—and they could spell doom for his presidential campaign.

Of course, none of that should take anyone by surprise. As governor, Romney showed Massachusetts that—pragmatic to the core—he was willing to say whatever was needed to advance his political career. Facing an emboldened Democratic majority in the legislature after his 2004 election debacle, Romney began to turn his attention away from Beacon Hill and toward Washington, DC. In the process, the former self-described “progressive” shifted his views on gay rights, abortion, and stem cell research to appeal to a more conservative audience.

In 2005 Romney vetoed a bill that would have expanded embryonic stem cell research even though his wife, Ann, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, had recently said she hoped that same research could help cure MS. The legislature ultimately overrode the veto. Romney would later veto an emergency contraception bill as well, only to see that one overridden, too. The growing sense that Romney viewed Massachusetts as merely a steppingstone did not go over well. By November 2005, a Suffolk University/7 News poll found that his favorability rating—47 percent a year earlier—had plummeted to 33 percent, while his unfavorability rating had rocketed up to 49 percent.

When he finally left office, even the conservative Herald editorial page was happy to see him go. “We can only imagine how much more he might have managed if he held the day job in higher esteem than as a convenient springboard for a presidential campaign,” the tabloid editorialized. Tellingly, when Romney ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, several prominent local Republicans, including three of the five GOP state senators, endorsed other candidates.

To explain his sudden conservative turn as governor, Romney tells a story of meeting with Douglas Melton, a Harvard stem cell researcher, and becoming sickened when he learned of the casual way human embryos are killed for science. Melton has refuted Romney’s story, saying the conversation didn’t happen at all like that—that the killing of anything never even came up. While it’s impossible to know who’s telling the truth in this instance, bending reality to fit his narrative is something Romney’s made a habit of while running for president. Just as it’s difficult to recall another governor who shifted his views so much to appeal to a bloc of voters, it’s difficult to recall a presidential candidate who has relied so much on falsehoods and out-of-context quotes.

The first sign of trouble came in an ad Romney’s campaign ran last fall, quoting Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” In reality, the clip came from the 2008 election, and Obama was actually referring to something said by a John McCain aide. A small controversy over the ad erupted, after which Fehrnstrom, Romney’s top adviser, affirmed to the press that the outright distortion was part of a calculated strategy.

Lately, Romney has taken to launching misleading attacks that tread on highly charged racial ground. Playing to a Michigan crowd in August, he said, “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.” Aside from dog-whistling to birthers, he’s been hitting Obama on welfare, launching ad campaigns falsely alleging that the president is trying to make it easier for recipients to collect free money without having to work. In reality, the Obama administration told state governments that if they wanted to experiment with new ways to fulfill the welfare system’s work requirements—ones that increased the number of people actually working—the administration would consider the requests. Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times now flatly refer to Romney’s allegations as false. Other independent fact-checkers have also discredited the attacks. But that hasn’t stopped Romney’s campaign from continuing to hit Obama on the racially fraught issue, ever-so-subtly suggesting that Obama, a black president, is trying to make it easier to give handouts to poor (read: black) people.

At the Republican National Convention in August, Ashley O’Connor, a top Romney strategist, told reporters, “Our most effective ad is our welfare ad.” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse added, “Fact-checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

  • Catarina

    Nice article Jason, well researched & well written! Couldn’t agree more with all of your points. Your subtle sarcasm is on-point.

  • Mike

    The points you raised are why my skin crawls when I now hear him called “Governor Romney” instead of “the former, one-term governor, Romney.”

    • Rainne

      Me, too. Which is why I think Palin’s title should be revised to “half-governor”.

  • Ilene

    Only in a moon bat state would this absurd article be applauded by useful idiots. Any Republican has to put up with the crass remarks of the left, while every democrat governor has sucked the fun out of living in this state.

  • VinnieX

    Yeah, I know, I remember. Mit the Twit spent his last two years traveling the US bashing Mass. What a guy.

    Now, if he’s the CEO of his presidential campaign, he put the team together, he’s the “decider,’ and the camapaign is an organizational and strategic disaster, then this is what his administration would be. A disaster. No thanks.

  • Linda Fiorenza

    When will the media leave Mitt Romney alone and try telling the truth. I lived in Massachusetts for 65 years. As an adult I saw many governors come and go. When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts times were not so bad. Try looking at the present governor and ask the people how much he is liked. I subscribe to Boston Magazine and so surprised that you did not leave this story there. You are coming on a little to strong with your photo,s and story.

    • Heidi

      Linda,
      I have been a life long resident of MA. and I see things quite on target with the article posted in Boston Magazine.
      I recall when Mitt came into office being impressed that he offered to not take a pay check. I foolishly thought it was because he really wanted to improve our lives. When in the end I realised he only wanted to fill his goal and the steps it would take to become president. He was known as the Govenor who got into office to do nothing. He even sat on a federally madated grants that were suppose to be for the states most vunerable children to prevent them from being put into institutions. Both Romney and the state of MA. were successfully sued. (RosieD Law Suit)
      Before he left office he had to say he did something so he pushed out Romneycare which is nearly identical to Obamacare/ Which was a good thing for the residents (my insurance went down again this year). However what Romney did is basically leave it up to the next Govenor to figure out how to make it work -pay for it. If it failed not his fault, if it succeeded it was his doing. A great success to use when running for President. Mitt Romney has flip flopped on everything just about and in my opinion not someone to be trusted or supported.
      Thank you.

  • trish stratus

    Mitt has skeletons in his closet who is he never heard of him.. See he dont have to worry about his children growing up. Theres a reason why he dont want to visit Mass whats done in the dark comes to the light he aint right

    • Karen Santos

      I guess we really do live in a blue state, no matter what would constitute logic. No politician is perfect and what Obama has done to this country pales in comparison to Romney/MA. Why does everyone defend Obama’s failed record? Romney is a business man, not a politician. We need to run the country like a business, things are bad out there, in case you hadn’t noticed with your head in the sand, still drinking the Kool-Aid. Obama was a junior senator with ZERO track record in Chicago… and you bash Romney? How a sitting President who has trashed our economy with over-spending can campaign on listening to more lies? Really people? Wake up call. – the movie based on Obama’s own book – Obama’s America 2016. If you truly have the guts to see it.

      Boston Magazine, thanks for the reminder we live in a blue state, and only publishing one side. Mainstream media.

      Btw everyone, fact check, Obama just spent 3M of TAXPAYER dollars on a PR firm to promote Obamacare. And we will continue to have that kind of spending thanks to you all that have a bag over your head.

      • BC Eaglet

        Pray, tell, Miss Santos, what Obama has done to this country in 4 years that is so horrendous. If you believe anything in that 2016 movie, then I feel sorry for you while Dinesh D’Souza is rolling in the millions he sucked out of theatre-going full-paying folks like you.

      • Carlos

        nicely put….and they ask why Romney doesn’t campaign in Ma. Actually he has, your liberal media did not show it. I am from Ma and was proud with the Job Romeny did. He lowered taxes to 5% and Obama’s buddy raised them to 6.5% but you still support him. Liberals keep saying the democrats are for the poor, they are not. They are just using the poor. I would say the republicans are more for the poor, they cut taxes and created jobs. May God save us from 4 more years of Obama……go Romney

        • Carlos

          Sorry for the typo….Romney

  • Dave Gould

    Nonsense. Mitt Romney did fine. I have no bad memories of his Governorship. He gets my vote.

    • DF

      Dave-I wonder if these people WANT another 4 more hellish years with Oblamer???? I SURE AS HELL DON’T! I’D RATHER MOVE TO EUROPE. OOPS, we have Social medicine now…so we ARE pretty much just like them not to mention our debt bubble will explode. GREAT job Obama! Way to go! 42 straight months of unemployment >8.1% and the BLS fuzzy math to fudge them JUST IN TIME for the election to get them BELOW 8% was, well, bull crap and lying to the American people! WE DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS! But everyone else can keep saying he’s better than Mitt. Sorry, I’d rather take Mitt ANYDAY over that Marxist…just saying. Esp after Benghazigate, Solyndragate, Fast & Furious, the gaffes, the debt, the 6 TRILLION in debt…and list goes on and on and on. Worst of all is the Start Treaty with the UN! But most of the country isn’t even paying attention…they’re too distracted with Oblamer going on The View, watching him on Letterman, or blaming Bush….or they’re watching Glee or Dancing with the Stars….NOT that those are bad things…but come on! Our liberties are being stripped everyday via Oblamer’s executive fiat and thru Congressional laws….WOW! WAKE UP before it’s too late! And please make informed consent, not just reading these stupid articles. Project Vote Smart is one great place to start….

      Dave-I’m not pointing my comments at you….I agree with you….just generalizing my thoughts to the general public! I’m pissed that our nation is being lost to marxist rhetoric and the socialist agenda FORWARD!

  • Diane

    Anyone who’s thinking of voting for Mitt. please read…

  • DF

    This is supposed to be a GOP magazine? Yeah, NOT! Sounds like a liberal propaganda machine to me…..
    This is the story you should be reading:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2012/09/25/7_incredible_personal_stories_about_mitt_romney_that_you_may_not_know/page/full/

  • http://www.mlbresearch.com Matt

    Then there was his record on rural Massachusetts:
    http://www.dailyyonder.com/speak-your-piece-rural-and-romney/2011/09/09/3513

  • http://www.tvyourhealthcare.org Ellen Kagan

    Great article. I am an ardent Obama supporter and hope that the rest of the country sees the phoneyness of Romney. I am passing this around so that everyone I know can read it.

    • Carlos

      God save us from Obama and all you left wing crazy people. Lover’s of self and haters of God. The movie 2016 was right on; let’s see….the movie was based on obama’s own book.

      • Rainne

        “Haters of god”? You can’t hate something that doesnt exist.

  • Roberto

    While much of this may or is true, the fact that Mitt did not want to “mingle” with historicially corrupt Dems in Senate and House (those currently jailed or not) does not surprise me… Very interesting piece but lots is debatable.

  • Carlos

    Ma let our vote count this year; may all people who love this great Country vote for Romney. Stop the Obama machine. I am Latino and a Vet of the Iraq war; my vote is for Romney.

    • Rainne

      Why would you vote for someone who has no respect for you as a Latino or as a vet? The Romney/Ryan budget includes HUGE cuts to veterans’ benefits, and you know Romney thinks all us Latinos/Latinas need to get back to Mexico pronto unless we’re doing his landscaping or cleaning his house.

  • http://MittRomneyhasmyvote.Thisarticleisfullofcrap!!! tom johnson

    Mitt Romney has my vote and my family’s and friends, and we are all from Massachusetts. The article is full of crap!!!

    • DiverDave13

      Tom,
      How about some rebuttal to the story?
      Instead you just shout at us.
      I bet you didn’t even read it, did you?
      It sounds as if it was well researched and written.
      FACTS, Tom, that’s what I saw.
      And you just yell its crap!.
      Typical response when you have no information showing what was crap.
      BTW, you might want to calm down, anger is bad for you.

  • Joe

    I consider myself to be a conservative from Massachusetts. Not in the traditional sense of being mindlessly religious, and borderline no government. But in terms of the constitution and its “interpretation” is conservative. I believe in the second Amendment and people having the ability to defend themselves. I believe in small government. But this November, I will not be voting for Romney. I will be voting Obama, even if I have to raise hell to protect my gun rights.

    Obama may not be doing everything right, but he has lived up to more of his promises than any other President in my lifetime. For instance Bush said we shouldn’t do nation building… Remember his whole conservative platform of when he sounded like he knew something when he was running? We saw how that turned out didn’t we?

    Obama is a modern day FDR. I may not like everything he does, but the hate for the man shows what FDR was talking about. Obama should welcome their hatred, because he might actually enact change that is good and for the little guy. The rich have gotten out of control and we need men to make them angry by making things fair again. That is my hope, but if you really ask me it’s all just a show, meant for the rest of us to bicker over and spew our political affiliation talking points like its our jobs…

    Government is not about passing Left wing or right wing laws. Its about finding a compromising and passing a law that appeases both to some degree.

  • Jimmy

    Oh My… Jason has an axe to grind sounds like to me. I wonder why. How one sided of Boston magazine shame on you.

    I’m going to do well no matter who gets in the office. That’s the attitude we should all have. Anyone can make it in America… ie: look at the Afgan Jacksonvile Jaguars owner, look at oprah, look at the Indian movie maker of Nobama 2016, look at Labron, look at Regis, look at Condi Rice… The opportunity is there for everyone even today… but someone promises to do changes and doeas not, after 4 years with no progress, you try the next guy in line for the job.
    Remember when Reagan took over when unemployment was 10.7% and he added 50 million jobs and Nobama is bragging about 5 million when he lost almost 5 million. 12 years of collective efforts killed Bin Laden… Bush set up the auto bailout and cut the first multi million dollar check before leaving office so it’s wasn’t all Nobama… Lybia and it was a video??, 800,000 new jobs last month, nothing like that since 1983?? No way…
    Romney doesn’t have Ma so why bother campaigning here? Smart if you ask me…
    I think Romey will win and the reson is because he will get the confidence back in the business community and ALL of us will benefit as long as you work hard at it like all the successful people do no matter where they came from or who they are…