The Presidential Candidate that Can’t Carry His Home Town

As we approach next Tuesday’s election, should voters consider casting their ballots for a Presidential candidate who does not have the support of his home community, the place where people know him the best? Has anyone ever been elected President without the support of his home town? This is a question that those weighing the candidacy of Mitt Romney should be asking themselves, for it is expected that Mr. Romneywill not carry his home town of Belmont, Massachusetts. Belmont, a suburb of Boston with about 25,000 residents, is the town where Mr. Romney and his family have lived for over 40 years and the community in which he will vote on Tuesday.

The hosts of the popular radio show “Car Talk”, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, once jokingly called Belmont the most conservative, boring town in Massachusetts. Although most residents probably would not agree with that description, it is a largely white, middle class town where independents are the largest voting block. It is a town that elected the more conservative candidate in its last town election. Belmont is a community, in short, where voters should flock to Mr. Romney as one of our own. Unfortunately for Mr. Romney, the exact opposite is true. We simply know him too well.

We know him well even though Mr. Romney has never run for local political office in Belmont – perhaps it is too small a stage for him. He first ran for elected office for the U.S. Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy that year was not the Democratic Party icon that he became later. In fact, he was considered quite vulnerable politically, which is probably why Mr. Romney entered the race and financed it lavishly.  Obviously, Belmont voters found something lacking with Mr. Romney, though, perhaps questioning the sincerity of his beliefs. As we know, Mr. Romney lost the election. And, in Belmont, his home town, he did worse than he did statewide, garnering only 40 percent of the overall vote here.

After working on the Utah Olympic Games, Mr. Romney returned toMassachusetts and continued the streak of Republican gubernatorial victories by winning in 2002 on a progressive, liberal platform against a lackluster Democratic candidate. As Governor, Mr. Romney faced an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature, and early on, realized he needed to work with the Democrats. During this time, the Massachusetts’ health care law was enacted, legislation upon which the national health care law (“Obamacare”) was closely modeled. Mr. Romney backed the individual mandate to provide nearly universal health care.

Then, less than two years later, things changed. Mr. Romney rejected many of the positions he had espoused so strongly from the time of his 1994 campaign, in areas such as a woman’s right to choose, gay rights and environmental protection. While still governor, he gave up on our state in order to advance his national political aspirations. Many felt betrayed. Mr. Romney never ran for a second term.

Of all the contortions that Mr. Romney performed to ingratiate himself with the right wing his views on choice are perhaps the most indicative of the his lack of any deeply held beliefs. In 1994, he professed his solidarity for women’s rights, declaring that “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country…Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years…and we should sustain and support it.” This position mirrored his mother’s and, as such, he had held dear for nearly 25 years. In the 2002 gubernatorial race his position was even stronger, declaring that “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, and I am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.”

But then came the time when he realized he could not win the Republican nomination with such a position so he wiped his Etch-a-Sketch clean with his “epiphany” that abortion should no longer be legal. Today, he maintains that “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine.”

Both the Town of Belmont and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rejected Mr. Romney when he professed liberal positions. With his nearly complete reversal from his sworn word on important issues, it is no surprise that a few days before the election Mr. Romney lags far behind in the Massachusetts polls. His campaign, with seemingly unlimited funding, has given up here. And, there is every reason to believe that Belmont, Mr. Romney’s home town, will vote the way it always has, favoring the candidate with real core values – and giving Mr. Romney far less support than a home town Presidential hopeful could ever imagine.  The rest of the nation may wish to take note.

Steve Klionsky
Belmont, MA
34 year resident