In taking a more moderate approach as the general election nears, GOP nominee Mitt Romney has promised to use bipartisanship to get the work done in Washington. However, critics of the former Massachusetts governor have accused him of vetoing the truth, saying he will say anything to get his next position and that it’s best to pay attention to his record.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Monday, Romney’s former challenger for the Massachusetts governor position, Shannon O’Brien, painted the Republican nominee as an aloof governor who will say what’s needed to advance to the next stage.
It might still be a sting from the 2002 gubernatorial race defeat, but O’Brien doesn’t believe that a bipartisan Romney will be the one occupying the White House, if successful in November.
“On the campaign trail he said so many conflicting things,” she told the “Hardball” host. “You really can’t look at his words, but what you can look at is how he governed. I think he probably set a record. He vetoed 800 either pieces of legislation or line-item vetoes -- twice what his Republican predecessor Bill Weld did.”
“These were not just small things. These were things like vetoing the minimum wage or vetoing access to contraceptive rights,” she added. “Sometimes they were petty and partisan -- vetoing a special bill that would have helped a disabled cop; vetoing money that would have paid for kosher meals for elderly people in nursing homes. Eight hundred vetoes and I think something like 750 vetoes were overridden by the Democratic legislature. That doesn’t sound like a guy who was playing ball with people on the other side of the team.”
The Veto Record
Romney’s penchant for vetoes isn’t a secret. During his four-year tenure as governor of Massachusetts, he issued more than 800 budgetary vetoes. However, the majority of those overridden by the Democratic legislature did outnumber those sustained.
One of those vetoed in 2005, was a bill that allowed scientists looking to conduct stem cell research in the state to bypass local district attorney’s approval. Romney’s veto was defeated by both the Senate and the state’s House by two-thirds of the votes needed to do so.
Ryan Williams, Romney presidential campaign spokesman, worked with the candidate during his 2002 run and served in his administration in Massachusetts. Now back with the nominee on the road to the White House, Williams begs to differ with critics.
"The most bitter beverage is wine made from sour grapes, and Shannon O'Brien has sipped liberally from that cup," Williams said. "Romney couldn't have accomplished anything without working with the legislature."
Working With Democrats Or Vice-Versa?
While Romney may boast of his bipartisan work in Massachusetts, some may say his record shows the Democrats' ability to work with a Republican leader – a contrast to what has been seen on the national level from the Republican’s end.
President Barack Obama has long argued that he couldn’t get much past the Republicans in Congress.
If Romney becomes chief executive, Williams said he will remain the fiscal conservative who disagrees with spending.
“You will see the same Mitt Romney in the White House who was a tremendous success in the business sector, accomplished bipartisan governor and a leader in his community,” he said.
When Romney was sworn in as governor in 2003, he eliminated a nearly $1.5 billion deficit through spending cuts, increased fees and without raising taxes. Additionally, Romney passed a near-universal health care law that became the basis for Obamacare.
Despite all those successes, Romney still has a reported favorable rating of 34 percent in Massachusetts.
On the national level, in earlier polls, people weren’t too drawn by him either. But since the first round of the 2012 presidential debate, in which a moderate Romney took charge, things have been shifting in his favor.
Gallup on Tuesday, released polling data showing registered voters are now equally favorable to Romney (52 percent) and Obama (51 percent). The poll was conducted after the Oct. 3 debate in Denver. His unfavorable ratings among registered voters are slightly lower than Obama’s, and Gallup believes this is because “Obama is better known, and more have an opinion -- positive or negative -- of the president.”