News & Politics

Veto Veto Veto! Romney's Nasty Dealings With Massachusetts Dems

Romney is trying to sell himself as bipartisan. According to reporters, he invested little time in building ties with legislators.

US Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney awaits to roll into a rally aboard his campaign bus in Doswell, Virginia, on November 1.


The best rebuttal for Mitt Romney’s closing argument, as usual, is Mitt Romney.

In recent days, “bi-partisan” Romney has been stressing that he has a Massachusetts history of reaching “across the aisle,” and is better equipped to break Washington’s gridlock, a theme that’s won himendorsements from the Des Moines Register and a nine-point lead on that question in an AP poll.

In March 2007, however, shortly after stepping down as a Massachusetts governor, he told quite a different tale about how he dealt with the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature. In a speech to C-PAC, where the newly minted presidential candidate won the conservative organization’s straw poll, Romney used the word veto 10 times.

“I know how to veto,” he declared. “I like vetoes. I vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor.” He bragged: “I vetoed a tuition break for illegals.” Stating that he would impose a cap on non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus one percent, Romney vowed that if Congress sent him a budget that exceeded that cap, “I will veto that budget,” regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans controlled Capitol Hill.

“I’m proud to be the first presidential candidate to sign Grover Norquist’s tax pledge,” he noted in the same speech, which, of course, would put him at loggerheads with virtually every Democrat in Congress.

Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, the Boston Globe reporters that wrote “The Real Romney,” wrote that his legislative plans “faltered,”  because Romney “invested little time little in building” ties with legislators,” or even “in getting to know” them. His court consolidation program “went nowhere,” his higher ed vision “vanished almost without a trace.” Unlike previous Republican governors, concluded the reporters, he “rarely made an effort with the rank and file.”

“You remember Richard Nixon and the imperial presidency?” one Democratic lawmaker said. “Well, this was the imperial governor.” Ropes curtailed access to Romney’s chambers, so did elevator access, and tape on the floor “told people exactly where to stand during events.”  

In his book, “No Apology,” Romney recounts a conversation with a friend who stubbornly insisted on remaining a Democrat. Romney expressed how difficult it was for him to understand, saying he was “puzzled by those who align themselves with a political agenda” that “hazards our freedom.” “He said he concluded the conversation—after rattling off “the undeniable litany of Democratic mistakes”—with the observation “that on almost every policy issue that would have an impact on our nation’s strength,” his party chooses the course of weakness.

“I didn’t convert my friend. I didn’t really expect to, at least not that day. Arguments have to be advanced day in and day out to make progress in this media-charged world. Over and over again we have to make the central point that I made with my friend: If the special interests that control the Democratic Party have their way, they will make America less strong, less secure, less able to generate the highest standard of living for all our citizens, and less able to protect our freedom.”

So, Mitt’s idea for a less partisan America?



Research assistance provided by Jacob Anderson, Andrea Hilbert, Max Jaeger and Catherine Thompson.

Wayne Barrett is a Nation Institute Fellow who has been covering the presidential election for the Daily Beast and Mother Jones. He was a senor editor and investigative reporter at the Village Voice for nearly four decades, and has written several books, including Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudy Giuliani.

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