Romney leaves the door open

It’s not even 2007 and he’s not even an official candidate yet, but Mitt Romney is getting hammered for his past statements about gay rights, abortion, stem cell research, and Ronald Reagan. Here is Byron York’s report.
The gay stuff strikes me as much ado about very little. As I’ve said, I don’t perceive a big gap between what Romney said 12 years ago and what he’s saying now. And the fact that Romney ran twice for state-wide office in Massachusetts without ever saying he favored gay marriage tells me that he’s a solid social conservative on this issue. I doubt that Romney has a problem here except perhaps with gay and anti-gay activists, and I suspect that puts him about where he wants to be.
Abortion and stem cells are another matter because here, by his own admission, Romney has dramatically changed his position. In general, my view is that it’s hard enough to find electable candidates who agree with me on the issues without worrying about whether they have always held the same views. However, Romney’s conversion took place in 2004, by which time he must have been thinking about running for presidency. Moreover, in the case of stem cells he converted to the position that I don’t favor.
For me, these are negatives but not deal-breakers. I still lean towards Romney as opposed to Giuliani, an out-and-out social liberal, and McCain whose positions on issues like taxes, campaign finance reform, and the interrogation of detainees make him all but impossible for me to support except in a general election. However, Byron’s piece suggests that Romney “has some serious repair work to do in South Carolina and among social conservatives in general.” And the door may be opening wider for a fourth major candidate.
JOHN adds: And, for better or worse, it looks like Newt Gingrich may be that candidate.
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PAUL adds: Like I said, it’s hard enough to find electable candidates who agree with me on the issues.

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