Mitt vs Mitt

And to think the Republicans called John Kerry a flip-flopper for saying he voted for war funding before he voted against it and are now very likely to put a ping-pong ball on their presidential ticket. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to describe it:

Mitt Romney sparked controversy Wednesday afternoon after he told local reporter Jim Heath in Ohio that he would oppose a bill that would “allow employers to ban providing female contraception.” “I’m not for the bill,” Romney declared. “But look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception, within a relation between a man and a woman, a husband and wife, I’m not going there.” Romney made the comments on the eve of a Senate vote for an amendment offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) to permit employers to deny coverage of health services to their employees on the basis of personal moral objections. The measure is the GOP’s response to President Obama’s rule requiring employers to provide contraception and other preventive health services as part of their health insurance plans.

But moments later, the Romney campaign reversed itself, claiming that the candidate was confused by the question and that he does indeed support the rhetoric behind the bill, namely a boss’ right to keep health care services out of the reach of workers based on religious concerns. Romney himself clarified his stance during a radio interview on the Howie Carr Show:

ROMNEY: I didn’t understand his question. Of course I support the Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people from getting contraception. So I simply misunderstood the question and of course I support the Blunt amendment…No, I simply misunderstood what he was talking about. I thought it was some Ohio legislation, where employers were prevented from providing contraceptives, and so I talked about contraceptives and so I really misunderstood the question. Of course Roy Blunt who is my liaison to the Senate is someone I support and of course I support that amendment. I clearly want to have religious exemption from Obamacare…. I really think all Americans should be allowed to get around this religious exemption.

Of course he does. Or does he?

It’s telling that he brought up Ohio, which was the scene of an earlier similar flip-flop.

And this isn’t the first time Romney had tripped up on birth control. Recall what he said at the New Hampshire debate:

“George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising. Do states have the right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine circumstances where a state would want to do so.”

Stephanopoulos tried to help him out, but Romney plowed on, saying, “I would oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking – given the fact there’s no state that wants to do so, you’re asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our Constitutionalist here.”

Presumably, if elected, Romney will hire a “Constitutionalist” of his own.

“Do you believe states have that right or not?” Stephanopoulos pressed.

Romney dug himself in a little deeper. “George, I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do and asking me if I want to do it or not is kind of a silly thing.”

Republicans do believe states have the right to ban birth control coverage. In fact, in their view, states have the right to do anything they choose as long as it’s based on conservative principles, at which point they point to the US constitution and start screaming at the top of their lungs. Romney seems to be extremely out of touch on this issue — or he has a memory problem and can’t remember what he’s supposed to say.

He’s doing this so often that I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t his strategy. I’m sure he’s being well briefed so unless he has Alzheimers,this doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore. Maybe they think voters will choose him for the position they agree with and assume he’s pandering on those they don’t. Certainly, the villagers seem to think he must really be a centrist moderate (the bestest and most wonderful of all ideologies) and is just pandering to the rubes. Weirdly, the rubes don’t seem to be as keen, but we’ll see if they don’t find it in their interest to believe his wingnut pronouncements were his real beliefs once he gets the nomination. People often delude themselves in this way — on both ends of the ideological spectrum.

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