As Bob Costa recently detailed, Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 — which limits unions’ collective bargaining powers and requires state employees to contribute 10 percent to their pension plans and 15 percent of their health-care costs — is under fire and facing possible repeal. Today, Mitt Romney visited Ohio, and declined to give a position on SB 5, according to CNN’s Peter Hamby, who tweeted, “Romney visits OH GOP phone bank to rally troops opposing SB5 repeal, but refuses to take a position on SB5.”
Asked for comment, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul e-mails, “Gov. Romney believes that the citizens of states should be able to make decisions about important matters of policy that affect their states on their own.”
UPDATE: A reader points out that Romney was comfortable endorsing New Hampshire’s right-to-work legislation in August. From the Boston Globe:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today called on New Hampshire to become a right to work state, meaning non-union members cannot be forced to pay union fees.
The Republican-led New Hampshire Legislature passed right-to-work legislation during its last session, which would make New Hampshire the 23rd right-to-work state in the country. The bill was vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch. Republicans have been struggling to muster the votes to override the veto. …
Romney told reporters, “If I were a voter, I’d encourage state representatives, state senators and the governor to do whatever is necessary to make New Hampshire a right-to-work state to create more jobs for the people of New Hampshire.”
UPDATE II: Politico’s Jonathan Martin notes that back in June, Mitt Romney wrote this Facebook post touting Building a Better Ohio, a group who supports the collective bargaining reforms and pension/health-care contributions that Kasich is fighting to keep in place. “My friends in Ohio are fighting to defend crucial reforms that the state has put in place to limit the power of union bosses and keep taxes low,” Romney wrote on Facebook. “I stand with John R. Kasich and Ohio’s leaders as they take on this important fight to get control of government spending. Please visit www.BetterOhio.org for more information.”
Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller gives this statement to The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent on Romney’s decision to not take a position on the matter:
The big problem many conservatives have with Mitt Romney is that he’s taken both sides of nearly every issue important to us. He’s against a flat tax, now he’s for it. He says he’s against ObamaCare, but was for the individual mandate and susbidies that are central to ObamaCare. He thinks that collective bargaining issues should be left for states to decide if he’s Ohio, but he took the opposite position when he was in New Hampshire. This is just another statement in a long line of statements that will raise more doubts about what kind of President Mitt Romney would be in the minds of many Republican primary voters.
Freedomworks’ Brendan Steinhauser struck a similar note, telling Slate’s Dave Weigel, “I’m not happy with Romney about his silence on Issues 2 and 3, but then again, I’m not surprised. He doesn’t believe in what we believe in –- nor is he willing to fight for these ideas. We are working VERY hard in Ohio for these campaigns and he is only interested in his own ambition to be president. Kasich = Courage and Romney = Empty Suit.”