Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney today declared that he was “110 percent” behind a law in Ohio that limits collective bargaining rights, after refusing to comment on the matter Tuesday.
Romney was roundly hammered by conservatives for refusing, on a visit to Ohio, to endorse a ballot measure there that curtails collective bargaining for public employees. The Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and prominent pundits all attacked the presidential candidate. Rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly joined them.
“I fully support Gov. Kasich's Question 2 in Ohio," Romney said at a campaign stop in Virginia, referring to the Issue 2 referendum that would maintain the law. “I'm sorry if I created any confusion there.”
The episode was especially odd because Romney — as he pointed out in Virginia — endorsed Issue 2 way back in June, on his Facebook page. He was also at a call center for volunteers rallying support for the law when he declined to comment.
The result of the 24 hours of back and forth was a renewed push by Mr. Romney’s political opponents to highlight what they call his routine repositioning on the issues.
The campaign of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas quickly attacked via Twitter, calling on users of the social media site to use the hashtag #flipflopmitt.
“With Mitt Romney finally showing a willingness to flip-flop on his liberal positions, the Perry Truth Team is encouraging Twitter users to suggest other liberal positions Mitt Romney should flip-flop on by using the hashtag #flipflopmitt,” the campaign said in a statement.
Earlier, Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for Mr. Perry, fired off a statement accusing Mr. Romney of “finger-in-the-wind politics” and saying that “when you try to stand on both sides of an issue, you stand for nothing.”
“It will be hard for Romney to beat Obama if he can’t get out from under the flip-flop narrative,” said former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney. “It plays into concerns the primary voters have that he can’t be trusted [and it’s] equally important in a general election against an incumbent president people like and trust.
“It’s not just that there is an alignment of interests” between Obama and Perry, Finney said. “But more importantly, it illustrates how vulnerable Romney is on this issue.”
As one Democratic operative aligned with Obama explained the strategy: “You get in the slipstream and get in behind the collective anti-Romney message. You jump in and draft off that.”
Far from an attempt to tilt the outcome of the Republican primary, the operative called the Democratic messaging push a “bow to the obvious” — that Romney’s likely to be the GOP standard-bearer.