Is Mitt Romney a Flip-Flopper?

Well, sure, to some degree. There is no question that, like Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush, he migrated rightward on the social issues when he sought national office. Beyond that, though, the record is not so clear. The DNC has released a four-minute ad that tries to paint Romney as a serial flip-flopper. At the Washington Post, the Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, evaluates the DNC’s ad by assessing independently each of its ten charges.

Kessler’s assessments, in my view, are admirably fair-minded. His conclusion:

So, out of ten items, we find only three correct, one uncertain, and then six that result in a total of 15 Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios is the worst rating (“Whoppers”) on Kessler’s scale. He notes further that “For this kind of ad, three correct statements out of ten is unusual.” By which I take it he means unusually bad.

The topics covered by the DNC ad are wide-ranging: the stimulus, abortion, Reagan’s policies, health care, immigration, global warming, no new taxes, assault weapons, TARP, the auto bailout. In some cases, the DNC’s claims rely on outrageous distortion of Romney’s statements. More broadly, I think that a fair evaluation across a broad range of issues will show that while Romney’s views on some issues have evolved, and like anyone else he has emphasized different themes at different times, his policy positions have not been notably inconsistent over the years. While flip-flopping is certainly a fair criticism to lodge against any politician, if true, Republicans should be careful not to tar one of their own with the sort of false claims that are propagated by the DNC.

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