While, in general, I favour the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, in the upcoming election, I got to thinking after watching last night’s presidential debate: which Mitt Romney are we likely to see after the election—assuming, of course, he’s elected president?
Over the past three years or so, I’ve seen, at least, four versions of Mitt Romney.
Firstly, we saw the reasonable, middle-of-the-road former governor who was proud of his moderate—dare I say, liberal-like—agenda as governor of Massachusetts, including a government healthcare program that seemed to become the model for so-called Obama-care.
Secondly, when the nomination process got underway formally, we saw a middle-of-the-road presidential nomination candidate, still proud of his liberal-like agenda as governor, though insisting his healthcare program was not at all the same as President Obama’s.
Thirdly, as the nomination process progressed, we saw in Romney a Regan-wannabe battling to secure the Republican nomination—he had shifted to the hard right to appease Tea Party and social conservative supporters. This was the social and economic conservative Romney—nothing middle-of-the-road about this Romney—battling the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, et al to see who would wear the mantel of “real conservative,” in the Ronald Reagan mould, of course.
Fourthly, having secured the nomination, we saw Romney gear back down and revert to more of a moderate politician, but with the baggage of all that had transpired and been said and claimed during the heated nomination race.
So which Romney did we see last night? He certainly was restrained, but was he moderate? Does his non-confrontational approach last night signal he is again the moderate who governed Massachusetts or was that demeanour just a sham to cover the hard-right Romney we followed last summer.
And that’s a problem for Romney supporters on Nov. 6. Will they be able to tell which Romney they’ll actually be getting, should he win the vote?