The Campaign Spot

Can Flip-Flopping Be Forgiven?

The argument from McCain’s camp in recent weeks is that even if conservatives disagree with his views on campaign finance reform or immigration, they know that he’s consistent and following his principles, and not cravenly flip-flopping to win some votes.

Columns like this one from Patrick Ruffini – formerly a Giuliani campaign web guy – are likely to make them tear their hair out.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye if someone’s flip-flopping in my direction, but that’s not it. Rather, it’s that at some point, you’ve gotta dance with the ones that brung ya. Said another way, the positions Romney et al. are taking now, in the most important campaign of their lives, are the ones they’re stuck with — whether they like it or not.After his public conversion and being pilloried as a flip-flopper, do you seriously think that Romney can walk back his pro-life positionwithout destroying himself? Does anyone actually think that Romney would be so stupid as to advance public funding of elections after running as the enemy of BCRA? If Romney runs and manages to get elected as a conservative, why would he revert to a non-winning position?
If you look at history, how candidates run — regardless of what they believed earlier in their career — is how they govern once they win. Conservatives may feel betrayed by George W. Bush but his campaigns were stellar examples of truth-in-advertising. Remember, he got elected as a different kind of Republican who was pro-immigrant and who was more concerned about taxes than spending. How Bush governed is exactly how he ran, except maybe for the nation-building thing (and there was a pretty big change in circumstances there.)

He’s responding to Soren Dayton, who contends we’re witnessing candidates, “Run on some positions [their] whole [lives], then change them to win the nomination.”

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