“None of us here, I think, have gone through life having made a decision and have always stuck to it for the rest of their lives,” said Randall Loiacono, 51, an arts-and-crafts shop owner. “We’ve moved, we’ve changed spouses, we’ve changed businesses, jobs, college majors. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want a president or a leader who is inflexible. I don’t want somebody who has made a decision on something maybe 10 years ago and, despite any new information, is going to stick to that decision.”
Romney looked on, holding his left hand at his hip, as Loiacono continued. “You’ve been painted by some of your opposition... as having flip-flopped on some issues. I would not run away from that. I would say, ‘Yes, I have, new information has come, I’ve made a decision, I’ve wisened up or whatever.’”
“Again, I don’t want somebody who’s full steam ahead damn the torpedoes no matter what,” Loiacono added. “It doesn’t make sense to me. The world changes. Things change...I think it would be useful to actually almost wear it as a badge of courage.”
At that, Romney said he learned in the business world that changing positions can be a good thing.
“Having had the experience of living in the private sector, I’ve found more than once that I’d been wrong,” Romney said. “And in the private sector, if you don’t recognize if you’re wrong and you keep sticking to a decision that you had before you had all the data that you get later in your experience, why, they call you stubborn. With time, you’d be likely to lose your job, and so you learn as you moved along.”
“There’s no question that over the experience of a lifetime my views on some things have changed — not as many as my opponents might suggest, but in some places they have changed, and I’ll acknowledge that,” Romney added.
Romney said one of those was the issue of life. He supported abortion rights when he ran for Senate in 1994 and for governor of Massachusetts in 2002. But when he was in office, Romney said, an embryonic stem cell research bill came to his desk that “would have created new life for the purposes of experimenting on it and then destroying it.”
“I simply could not sign a bill that would take life,” Romney said. “I recognized that was a very different course than I’d expected.”
Asked by reporters later whether he was satisfied with Romney’s response, Loiacono said he wanted Romney to more fully embrace his evolving positions.
“I would like him to say more than that,” Loiacono said. “I would like to see a commercial that says the same thing — ‘Do you want a president who’s stubborn? Do you want a president who’s inflexible? Or someone who adjusts as more information comes in?’”
Loiacono knows which kind of president he wants. He said he plans to vote for Romney in the Jan. 10 primary.