Why did Romney oppose the Contract With America?

The Washington Post points out that Mitt Romney opposed the Contract With America. Why? Well, I got out my trusty Lexis and asked it that question. Here’s what I got. Full articles after the jump.

According to one article:

Mr.  Romney, a venture capitalist who has never held elective office, criticized the Republican campaign agenda, the "Contract With America," as too partisan.  He said he would have gone against the GOP leadership and supported the crime bill, and would oppose a capital gains tax cut.

According to another:

Romney stressed his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights, criticized the Republican "Contract With America" promoted by the party’s congressional leaders and, at Faneuil Hall, was more outspoken than Kennedy in arguing that the Boy Scouts should not exclude homosexual youths.

Hmmm. So his reasons were that he didn’t want to be partisan, opposed tax cuts and at the same time emphasized that he supported abortion and supported universal health insurance. Gary Marx is going to have to keep working on that conservative outreach.

Update: Robert Bluey from Human Events follows a different line of attack on Romney by focusing on Jesse Helms.

 

Copyright 1994 The Washington Times LLC

All Rights Reserved 

The Washington Times

 

October 28, 1994, Friday, Final Edition

 

SECTION: Part A; NATION; Pg. A4

LENGTH: 617 words

HEADLINE: Kennedy avoids haymaker in final debate with Romney

BYLINE: Rod Dreher; THE WASHINGTON TIMES

BODY:

 Massachusetts Senate candidates Edward M.  Kennedy and Mitt Romney battled to a gentlemanly draw last night in the last debate before the election in which Mr.  Romney, the upstart Republican challenger, hopes to send the veteran Democrat home after 32 years in Washington.

 There were no knockout punches delivered.  The only heated clash came in an argument over who was tougher on crime.  "I yield to no one when it comes to what to do about guns," Mr.  Kennedy said, citing his support for gun control measures.

 When Mr.  Romney criticized his opponent, the senator for the second time in two debates invoked the memory of his slain brothers.  "You don’t have to tell me anything about guns in society.  I know enough about it, Mr.  Romney," he said.

 "That’s always the last resort," Mr.  Romney replied, referring to the senator’s debate tactic.

 The debate took place at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Mass., and was broadcast nationally on the cable network C-SPAN.  A 12-member panel of private citizens questioned the candidates.

 The men gave voters a clear ideological choice in last night’s forum.  Mr.  Kennedy defended activist government solutions to social problems, while Mr.  Romney stressed private sector initiatives.

 But Mr.  Romney said he would be an independent voice on Capitol Hill, and would not walk in lock step with fellow Republicans.

 "I’m not going to Washington to toe the line," he said.  "I believe the issues we face are far too important to be faced from one side of the aisle than the other."

 Mr.  Romney, a venture capitalist who has never held elective office, criticized the Republican campaign agenda, the "Contract With America," as too partisan.  He said he would have gone against the GOP leadership and supported the crime bill, and would oppose a capital gains tax cut.

 One questioner brought up accusations by a former Kennedy Senate staffer that the senator had used cocaine, had a drinking problem and was a sexual harasser.  He asked Mr.  Kennedy if he had ever used cocaine, and if he had a problem with alcohol.

 "The answer to both is no," the 62-year-old Mr.  Kennedy said.  He called them "old allegations by a disgruntled former employee of mine," and reminded the audience that the Senate Ethics Committee had investigated them and cleared the senator of wrongdoing.

 Mr.  Romney, the 47-year-old son of former Michigan Gov.  George Romney, chose not to attack his opponent on the character issue.

 The difference between the liberal Democratic senator and his GOP opponent was perhaps most clear on the question of what to do about the failed public housing system in this country.  Both agreed that, in Mr.  Kennedy’s words, "the objective has to be homeownership."

 But Mr.  Romney said the private sector can best handle the problem.  He said he would work to give ownership of public housing to tenants, and to encourage banks to give home loans to poor families.

 "I don’t want to go back to the days of big government projects.  That has been a disaster," he said.

 Mr.  Kennedy said for the first time the federal government’s Fannie Mae agency is involved in helping citizens buy homes.  He argued that this is the proper role of government because the private sector has not been there for the poor.

 "The great capital resources don’t seem to be available in terms of the private banking industry," he said.

 With less than two weeks to go before the election, last night’s debate was perhaps Mr.  Romney’s last chance to close the 20-point gap in opinion polls between him and the 32-year incumbent.

 

Copyright 1994 The Washington Post 

The Washington Post

October 29, 1994, Saturday, Final Edition

 

SECTION: FIRST SECTION; PAGE A1

LENGTH: 1270 words

HEADLINE: Once Again, Kennedy’s the One to Beat;

After Two Debates, GOP’s Romney Is Left Playing Catch-Up

SERIES: Occasional

BYLINE: David S. Broder, Washington Post Staff Writer

DATELINE: HOLYOKE , Mass., Oct. 28, 1994

BODY:

At 62, he may be a little old to be "The Comeback Kid" of this campaign year, but Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) has provided a lesson in fighting for political survival that even Bill Clinton would envy.

Written off six weeks ago as an overweight, out-of-shape relic of a dated liberal past, the veteran Democrat has been giving a demonstration of durability to his somewhat stunned Republican challenger, venture capitalist Mitt Romney, who was a teenager when Kennedy won his Senate seat in 1962.

The latest chapter was written here Thursday night, when Kennedy and Romney met in the second of two hour-long televised debates. It was not the clear-cut victory that Massachusetts political and media scorekeepers awarded to Kennedy when the two clashed for the first time Tuesday at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. But aided by a series of setup questions from sympathizers among the panel of citizen-interrogators, Kennedy held Romney in check until the debate’s final minutes, when the challenger finally began differentiating his positions from the senator’s liberal views.

Two Boston newspaper polls taken just before and just after the first debate showed Kennedy opening leads of 18 and 20 percentage points respectively. At a rally here after Thursday’s debate, in which many observers gave Romney a narrow edge, the Republican cautiously said, "I think the senator is going to see me inching up on him."

In mid-September, Republican hopes of ending the Kennedy hegemony were much higher. Romney came roaring out of a strong showing in the GOP primary and surged into virtual parity with the incumbent. At the time, columns and talk shows were filled with suggestions that time and hard living had taken their toll on Kennedy and that his unrepentant liberalism had lost its appeal.

Romney, a teetotaling Mormon with a picture-book family and a great academic and business resume, seemed perfectly positioned to draw a clear contrast on both the policy and the personal levels. He modeled himself on Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld (R) — apparently on an easy path to reelection — striking a conservative stance on fiscal issues, crime and welfare but a liberal position on abortion and other social issues.

Early this month, Kennedy set out to take some of the gloss off Romney’s claim that his investments had created at least 10,000 jobs — the keystone of his effort to say that his market-oriented economics worked better than Kennedy’s welfare state.

The Democrat aired ads showing strikers who said they had lost their jobs in a Romney-financed takeover of their Indiana firm. Romney denied any part in the layoffs, but the defense effort stalled his momentum for weeks and gave Kennedy time to regroup. "That put us in quicksand," Charles Manning, a consultant to Romney and Weld, said today.

In the first debate, Kennedy again threw Romney onto the defensive with a series of specific questions on the Republican’s preferred health plan, eliciting repeated admissions that "I don’t know" the answers. A similar catechism on deficit reduction reduced Romney to pleas for mercy and occasioned an admonition from the senator that a legislator had to deal with specifics.

Last night was not nearly as one-sided, but a string of questions from obvious Kennedy sympathizers on college-student loans, preschool programs, affordable housing and other made-to-order topics for the senator kept Romney in a me-too posture through much of the hour. The Boston Globe’s Martin F. Nolan wrote today that it was "less a debate than an ambush" of the Republican.

On conservative talk shows, Romney was being derided today for "throwing the fight," by blurring his differences with the Democrat. Eager to show that he is a moderate independent and no ideologue, Romney stressed his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights, criticized the Republican "Contract With America" promoted by the party’s congressional leaders and, at Faneuil Hall, was more outspoken than Kennedy in arguing that the Boy Scouts should not exclude homosexual youths.

In the first debate, Romney’s handlers were distressed that he seemed to put more stress on defending his business record against Kennedy’s attacks than on driving his basic stump-speech message that Kennedy’s policies "have produced more crime, more welfare dependency and weakened family values."

In the final 15 minutes of the second debate, the challenger did hit hard on his differences with Kennedy on crime and welfare, and his closing statement, more focused than Kennedy’s, defined the generational and philosophical differences in their approaches.

But now Romney finds himself playing catch-up. The challenger, who learned campaigning from his father, former Michigan governor George Romney, has done a creditable job in his first race. But Kennedy has proved to be more than ready to battle for his job — and his ideas.

Once back in the state after the long congressional session, Kennedy went city to city, handing out oversized cardboard dummy checks to symbolize the assistance that his Senate seniority has produced for Massachusetts mayors, businesses and social agencies. Unlike other Democrats, he made no effort to distance himself from President Clinton, welcoming campaign visits by the president and Hillary Rodham Clinton. And he proudly reaffirmed his belief that government helps people in need.

It was not just Kennedy getting his act together; as word of his plight spread, help came from everywhere. When nephew Michael Kennedy, the nominal campaign manager, seemed swamped, three of Kennedy’s former Senate administrative assistants and a dozen other current or former staffers took leaves from their jobs to lend a hand, along with specialists in field operations, advance work and Election Day voter turnout, some as gray-haired as the senator.

"We have enough people here to run three presidential campaigns," said aide Charley Baker — and in truth many at the headquarters on Boston Harbor are veterans of the presidential races of Michael S. Dukakis and all three Kennedy brothers.

The prospect of losing their champion also proved a spur to his long-time allies. Organized labor gave up sulking about Kennedy’s apostasy on the NAFTA vote and moved into high gear. The carpenters, laborers and electricians who were mobilized to fill the area outside Faneuil Hall with Kennedy signs Tuesday night stormed in like a college football team coming out of the tunnel to the cheers of a passionate home crowd — impressing even the Romney partisans with their fervor.

Teachers, lawyers, arts people and others who have benefited from Kennedy’s legislative attentions over the years also got to work writing checks and walking precincts. In the state’s giant medical complexes and growing biotech industry, managers as well as workers were reminded of the strategic value of Kennedy’s chairmanship of the committee writing health legislation.

Romney has his own solid core of support, particularly in the middle-income suburbs, where more Romney than Kennedy signs dot the lawns. He also has dedicated workers like Charles Cobb, a Coloradan who drove cross-country and became a full-time volunteer because "this is a matter of integrity for me. Mitt Romney has it. Kennedy doesn’t."

Romney advisers say that as much as one-third of the electorate has not made a final decision on the contest and claim Romney is rated more favorably than Kennedy among those voters, giving him room to recover. But with no more debates and only 10 days to go, Kennedy looms as a big mountain for Romney to climb.