Calling Mitt Romney a "flip-flopper" may not be original, but still seems to resonate with the uneasiness many Republicans have with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Coming off a poorly received debate performance, then, Texas Gov.Rick Perry is now trying to capitalize off that uneasiness in two newly-released attack ads aimed at Romney, his chief competitor for the Republican nomination for President in 2012.
On Monday the Perry campaign released an ad entitled "Words Have Meaning," harking on a charge made by Perry during last Thursday's debate that Romney altered the text of his "No Apology" book between 2010 and 2011 in order to remove a sentence that suggests Massachusetts' "RomneyCare" was a model for the rest of the nation:
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Perry immediately followed his "Words Have Meaning" ad with another on Tuesday called "Romney's Race to The Flop," accusing Romney of going back and forth in supporting the President's "Race to the Top" education initiative:
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In introducing Tuesday's video, the Rick Perry campaign website writes:
"On issues important to American voters, Mitt Romney has never been known to stick to a position for long. As highlighted at the recent debate, he is finding it particularly easy to be both for and against President Obama’s national school testing and curriculum requirements known as Race to the Top."
"Given the constant flips and shifts, most of Mr. Romney’s words seem to have expiration dates."
When Perry first made the claims of Romney revising his book, the former Massachusetts governor became visibly agitated, and roundly denied Perry's claims.
“Please don’t try and make me retreat from the words that I wrote in my book,” Romney said. “I stand by what I wrote. I believe in what I did. And I believe that the people of this country can read my book and see exactly what it is.”
The Washington Post notes that Romney did change portions of the language in his book from it's hardcover release in 2010 to paperback in 2011. However, the Post found that the changes were only in sharpening his language against Obama's stimulus plan and healthcare plan, rather than reversal of support or "flip-flop." The Boston Phoenix writes on the differences in regards to healthcare in Romney's book:
"In the original hardcover, Romney tried to carefully distinguish between the Massachusetts law and the national version that was nearing passage as he wrote.
But the Massachusetts model has become Romney’s bête noire among conservatives, who loathe the national reform they call 'Obamacare.' The rewritten paperback swings much harder, proclaiming that 'Obamacare will not work and should be repealed,' and 'Obamacare is an unconstitutional federal incursion into the rights of states.'”
A spokesman for Romney's Free and Strong America PAC confirmed to the Phoenix:
“The book was originally written in the months immediately following President Obama’s inauguration. A lot has occurred over the last two years, and these updates reflect those happenings.”
The sentence in question in Romney's book originally appears in the hardcover as, "We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care,” changed in the paperback to:"“And it was done without the government taking over health care.”
The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, however, points out that they key line may be the one that precedes the sentence in question where Romney writes (because it seems show Romney is willing to defer to the states):
“My own preference would be to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens. States could follow the Massachusetts model if they choose, or they could develop plans of their own.”
As for "Romney's Race to the Flop" released Tuesday by the Perry campaign asserting that Romney has gone back and forth in supporting President Obama's national school testing and curriculum requirements, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul has already responded:
"This is just another tall tale from Gov. Perry. Instead of spending time misrepresenting Gov. Romney's words, Gov. Perry should take some time to explain why he thinks conservatives who disagree with him on providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants 'don't have a heart.'"
Saul noted that the Florida town hall meeting remarks, central to Perry's flop ad, use footage cut right before Romney says "“For me, get that back to the state level.”