Business Insider says yes. I’m skeptical, as I’ll explain after the quote.
The Ohio State GOP escorted Mitt Romney to Cincinnati for what seemed like a simple campaign appearance. Romney was brought to a phone bank where conservative activists were calling citizens to support John Kasich’s reforms to Ohio’s public employee unions (the reforms cut benefits and the union’s ability to negotiate on health-care issues). The repeal of these reforms has been put on the ballot in Ohio and is polling well–it’s called “Issue 2.”
“This is Kasich’s baby,” said one Republican with close ties to the governor. “He put his chief of staff in charge of it. They are doing all the fundraising. Kasich’s men have tried to bring in national figures to support the cause.” Mike Huckabee recently appeared in state to rally activists to the cause. The governor’s team hopes to bring in Sean Hannity to do the same.
But GOP chairman Kevin DeWine, who did not support Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign, brought Mitt Romney, displaying his political clout. But apparently no one informed Mitt Romney what the Ohio ballot initiatives were about or whether he had a position on them. When asked yesterday if he supported Issue 2, Mitt Romney punted. “I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues,” Romney said. “Those are up to the people of Ohio.”
“It would have been a pretty simple thing to make sure Romney knew that he was going to a phone bank where volunteers were making calls on behalf of Issue 2 and that earlier in the year he endorsed Issue 2,” said one Republican with close ties to the governor.
Instead it turned into a disaster for the Romney campaign.
Romney did a bit worse than punting here. He tried a punt from his own end zone, but fumbled the snap and let opposing linebackers pounce on it for an easy touchdown. There’s a new twitter feed out today from the Perry camp — #FlipFlopMitt — to commemorate the occasion.
But for this episode to reach the level of true shenanigans, someone would have had to do a bit more than fail to inform Romney that he had taken a position on the issue back in June. That’s not any local official’s job, for one thing. He should know his own positions and have the gut level instincts to get dodgy calls right in line with the rest of the party. In order for the Ohio fumble to be shady, the anti-Kasich locals would have had to somehow get Romney, who is quite intelligent, to forget the position that he had previously taken while making sure he’s mindful that the issue is flagging in the polls. Or they would have had to persuade him not to re-iterate that position, in which case they failed because he reiterated it today.
Could they count on Romney repudiating a previous position? Sure, he does that once or twice a week. But they could also just as reliably count on him not repudiating a previous position. He’s all over the place on global warming, but opposes ObamaCare while defending RomneyCare, which is pretty much the state version of ObamaCare. The point is, Romney was the variable in this story, and quite a variable he is.