Instead, the former Massachusetts governor stuck to the position he has held for many years — that he believes the world is getting warmer and that humans are contributing to that pattern.
Romney’s answer to the question about climate change last Friday during his first town hall meeting since announcing his second presidential campaign allowed him to demonstrate what he hopes voters will see as a new and improved candidate — an authentic leader with core convictions.
But the exchange in New Hampshire also served as a fresh indicator of Romney’s great quandary. He must shed the flip-flopper reputation that haunted his last presidential campaign while also appealing to conservative voters wary of his past support for near-universal health care, abortion rights, same-sex marriage and other positions befitting a politician elected in liberal Massachusetts.
So far, Romney’s reviews from the right are not positive. His views about climate change in particular put him at odds with many in his party’s base.
“Bye-bye, nomination,” Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday on his radio talk show after playing a clip of Romney’s climate remark. “Another one down. We’re in the midst here of discovering that this is all a hoax. The last year has established that the whole premise of man-made global warming is a hoax, and we still have presidential candidates that want to buy into it.”
Then came the Club for Growth, which issued a white paper criticizing Romney. “Governor Romney’s regulatory record as governor contains some flaws,” the report said, “including a significant one — his support of ‘global warming’ policies.”
And Conservatives4Palin.com, a blog run by some of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s more active supporters, posted an item charging that Romney is “simpatico” with President Obama after he “totally bought into the man-made global warming hoax.”
A Romney spokeswoman declined to comment about the criticism but did provide excerpts from Romney’s 2009 book, “No Apology
,” in which the candidate articulates the same environmental positions.
The episode suggests that Romney and his team, trying to market the candidate as authentic, see more of a benefit in sticking with his position and taking heat than in shifting to win over a crucial segment of the conservative base.
“The fact that he doesn’t change his position . . . that’s the upside for us,” said one Romney adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the campaign. “He’s not going to change his mind on these issues to put his finger in the wind for what scores points with these parts of the party.”
Romney, in his full answer to the question about climate change, maintained his position while offering enough nuance to extend an open hand to those who disagree.