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Former friends, allies, Mitt Romney and former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson now at odds

Published: Monday, Aug. 22 2011 10:17 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Once upon a time Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Rocky Anderson, the liberal former mayor of Salt Lake City, were fast friends. Since 2007, however, their relationship has been mired in a deep freeze.

McKay Coppins traces the arc of Romney's and Anderson's association in an article The Daily Beast published Friday.

"By the time the Olympics ended in 2002, Anderson had become such a fan of Romney's that he crossed party lines to endorse his friend in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. … (Today) the ex-mayor insists his lost faith in Romney is due entirely to questions of policy, not personal offense. He even says he feels sorry for the candidate: 'I think Mitt would privately say he wishes there weren't so many nuts in the Republican Party that had gained so much clout.' But he admits that the fallout in 2007 may have damaged their relationship. 'When he comes to Utah, he doesn't call me anymore,' says Anderson."

The trouble started brewing in March 2007 when Romney distanced himself from Anderson in an Associated Press article.

"Romney sought to minimize his relationship with Anderson, once a prominent example of bipartisan camaraderie. The two worked closely together when Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. 'He was a mayor that worked well with me during the Olympics, and I supported his work as a mayor," said Romney. 'I do not endorse or support his views on … almost any other issue, particularly that's unrelated to being a mayor.'"

Three months later, Anderson pulled no punches while returning fire against Romney during an interview with Democracy Now.

"I must say that I am very surprised that somebody like Mitt Romney, who I always felt had such great integrity and was so reasonable, would have caved into his handlers and flip-flopped on so many issues that he used to say he felt so strongly about, things like choice. His coming out against stem-cell research was just absolutely incredible to me."

The Romney campaign did not respond Monday to a request for comment about Anderson's recent statements to The Daily Beast.

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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