Scott Helman of the Boston Globe weighs in today with a curious — or perhaps I should say incurious — profile of Peter Flaherty, who is described as Mitt Romney’s “go-to guy for conservatives.”
Romney, of course, has engendered considerable skepticism on the right with his shift from moderate to conservative on social issues, especially abortion and gay rights. Flaherty’s job is to tell conservatives that Romney’s conversion is sincere and not a matter of mere political expediency.
Flaherty’s key talking point: “Obviously I’ve got to believe he’s for real, or I wouldn’t be wasting my time.”
Trouble is, the only evidence Helman cites that Romney used to be a moderate dates back to 1994, and to that illuminating YouTube video of Romney trying to out-liberal Ted Kennedy during their Faneuil Hall debate for the U.S. Senate. There’s no question that Romney has moved well to the right since then.
But there’s also no question that Romney has moved well to the right since 2002, when he ran for governor as a moderate — and, significantly, when Flaherty went to work for him, according to Helman’s story.
Take, for instance, this AP story from October 2002 in which Romney’s then-running mate, Kerry Healey, defended her boss as being every bit as pro-choice as his Democratic rival: “There isn’t a dime of difference between Mitt Romney’s position on choice and Shannon O’Brien.” Romney himself said that he “will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose … I will not change any provisions in Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.”
Or consider that in 2002 Romney opposed a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Or that, also in 2002, his campaign distributed pink-colored fliers at Gay Pride that read, “Mitt and Kerry wish you a great Pride weekend! All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.”
Which brings us back to Flaherty, who defends Romney’s conservative credentials on the grounds that he wouldn’t waste his time working for someone who did not genuinely hold such views. The obvious question is why Flaherty was so willing to waste his time in 2002.