The Washington Post has started a Sunday Outlook feature in which people who have known one of the prospective 2008 candidates write a few paragraphs about that person—generally a positive story from their childhood or early years in politics that casts the candidate in a good light. This past Sunday’s subject was Mitt Romney, and among various stories from friends and supporters, was one from Dr. Judith Dushku, a professor of government at Suffolk University. She tells of speaking with Romney (whom she knew from church) after he announced he would run against Sen. Kennedy in 1994, and writes,
“I congratulated him on taking a pro-choice position, one of the reasons I had been open to working with him. I remember his response was something like: “Well, this is Massachusetts. I realized I had to take this position,” which was the first indication to me that what I had understood to be his personal view was a stance he was actually taking pragmatically. He went on that day to talk about an aunt of his who had died during a botched abortion and how he thought legalized abortion was important. But those around him, and people who knew him closely in the ward, knew that it was a position he had taken because he thought he had to in order to win.”
It’s hard to know quite what to do with this suggestion that Romney was pro-life before he was pro-choice before he was pro-life. You have to wonder, though, if the Romney campaign got Dushku in touch with the Post (as they presumably did with the others who wrote) in the hope of planting the notion that Romney has actually always been pro-life.
Flip flops on abortion are a fairly common feature of political resumes in the past few decades. But Romney’s flip flops are both more recent and apparently more frequent than most. He’s done some work to explain them (and some of his record in office helps too), and has made real inroads with social conservatives. But it certainly looks like more work remains.