I’m not a huge fan of Mitt Romney’s, I’m really not. Early in the campaign, I like a lot of the rest of GOP voters was beating my head against the wall to the tune of “Anyone but Mitt Romney,” because in my eyes, Romney is not a small government conservative. I’ll admit he has his charm, but when it comes to his positions, I have a hard time standing with him. Yet, these past couple weeks I have found myself championing Romney as Gingrich rose in the polls. And here’s why…
Gingrich is not the anti-Romney. He is compelling, I know that. I was drawn into it at first. No one can give impassioned speeches about the history of this country like Gingrich can. And while he clearly demonstrates a deep understanding of history when he speaks, his record just doesn’t match up. Take Saturday night’s GOP debate for instance. As Romney and Gingrich battled over their health care records, Gingrich stated that when Hillarycare was being debated an individual mandate to make health insurance affordable for Americans was necessary, but now he thinks the mandate in Obamacare is unconstitutional. Now, the core of the Constitution has not changed since Clinton was president, so why was an individual mandate Constitutional then but not now? This is clearly a flip flop in a position, which is one of the things that people criticize Romney for.
Many conservatives, myself included, do not like Romney because of the Massachusetts health insurance plan, Romneycare. Yet, Romney has stated in past debates that there is a difference between a program like that on a state level and a similar plan on a federal level. Romney recognizes the unconstitutionality of socialized health care on a federal level. Gingrich does not. He has supported a federal individual mandate on multiple occasions. So how is Gingrich more conservative on this issue?
Romney has been criticized, and rightly so, for flip flopping on issues like abortion- he’s spoken both for and against Roe v. Wade. He’s flip flopped on gun control- he’s supported legislation banning types of assault weapons and he’s spoken out against bans on assault weapons.
Gingrich may not have quite the record on flip flopping that Romney does, although the case for his flip flopping in immigration could be made, but he does have a mixed voting record. (See votesmart.org for Newt’s complete voting record) He has voted consistently conservative on issues like a partial birth abortion ban, term limit legislation and welfare reform bills. However, Gingrich has also consistently voted for campaign finance laws that restrict the amount of money private corporations can give to candidates- a limit many conservatives consider to be a restriction of the free market. Also, Newt Gingrich was a co-sponsor of the Fairness Doctrine- a law that many consider to be a violation of freedom of speech. And, of course, there is the now infamous “We Can Solve It” ad where Gingrich sat down on a couch with Nancy Pelosi and ominously advocate taking control of climate change. Gingrich has since lamented the ad, but still, one has to wonder what he was thinking in the first place. Then there is the contribution Fannie Mae made to Gingrich’s bank account. Gingrich claims he was consulting, others claim he was a lobbyist. Either way, should Gingrich as a conservative really be accepting money from a tax payer subsidized organization? The answer is ambiguous. Gingrich has also admitted his admiration for Theodore Roosevelt- the founder of the progressive party. Teddy Roosevelt managed to expand the federal government through regulations in the name of public safety. Many conservatives will tell you that the role of the federal government is not to protect the citizen from himself. So should someone who advocated such policy really be the political role model for a so called Constitutional conservative?
In my eyes, because Romney shows an understanding of the difference between broad government programs on a federal and state level, he is the better choice of the two. Yet, both Gingrich and Romney have a history of switching their positions on important conservative issues, so the question remains, can we trust either of them?