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Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney's chances of becoming John McCain's vice presidential running mate are strong enough that the Democratic National Committee launched a full-scale attack on him Thursday.

It introduced a Web site section to knock him and sponsored a nationwide conference call for reporters to listen as Romney was verbally flogged by politicians from Massachusetts and Michigan — two of the three states that Romney has called home. The other state, of course, is Utah, but no politicians from it joined the attack initially but did later in the day.

"He is the most intellectually inconsistent politician in the history of politics," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said of former Massachusetts Gov. Romney. "I have never seen anyone so completely without any commitment to any particular principle and so willing to say whatever he thinks will help him win the next election."

Frank said Romney positioned himself even to the left of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., on such things as gay rights when they ran against each other in 1994, but then Romney switched positions.

"He went back to Utah with the Olympics and apparently flirted with possibly doing something politically there, so he moved to the right," he said. Frank said Romney moved to the left again when he ran successfully for governor. And then he moved to the right again when he ran for president.

"He's not a flip-flopper on abortion. He's a flip-flop-flip-flop. As a matter of fact, his gyrations on abortion really are of Olympic status," said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John E. Walsh.

He added, "I don't think it's possible for anyone, whatever your position on the right to life or the right to choose, to be comfortable with Mitt Romney's positions."

Dave Woodward, a commissioner in Oakland County, Mich., Romney's home county, said Romney made a fortune by "actually helping accelerate the outsourcing of good-paying jobs" abroad. "It scares me to death to think of the type of leadership we're going to have in Washington if this is the option out there."

A few hours after the initial conference call, Utah Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Holland also criticized Romney.

He said in a press release, "Democrats in Michigan and Massachusetts offered perspective on Mitt Romney that is rarely published in Utah. Based on his well-documented policy shifts, failure as a presidential candidate, business track record and brief public service that produced a trail of unemployed workers, it's clear there is another story of Romney."

Eric Fehrnstrom, spokesman for Romney, said in response to the attacks, "It shouldn't surprise anyone that bitterly divisive Democrats don't have anything good to say about Republicans."

He added, "Fair-minded people look at Mitt Romney as a strong leader, a man of character and integrity, who was elected as governor at a time of job loss and recession, and who managed to balance the budget all four years without raising taxes, and get the Massachusetts economy moving again."

Fehrnstrom added that "Gov. Romney expects to be campaigning as a supporter of the (McCain) ticket and not as a member of it."

A new DNC Web site, thenextcheney.com, attacks eight Republicans rumored to be on McCain's short list for his vice presidential choice. The Web site was launched last week, but it added a section about Romney on Thursday — and the national conference call was held to draw attention to it.

The Web site contends that whomever McCain chooses will essentially help lead to a third term for policies of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Spokesmen for Romney did not immediately respond to Deseret News inquiries about the attack.

Other potential vice presidential picks attacked on the site include Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge; Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty; former Hewlett-Packard board chairwoman Carly Fiorina; Florida Gov. Charlie Crist; FedEx chairman Fred Smith; and Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.

About Romney, Woodward said, "We need to actually make sure we're informing the public. Look at this guy's track record. Look what he's actually done, not what he says, because he clearly can't maintain the position for more than a couple sound bites."

Walsh added that he hopes the Web site will remind voters about what he says are Romney flip-flops and poor governance.

Walsh said Romney had a "disastrous term as governor." He said, "Massachusetts ranked 46th in job creation during his term. Our unemployment statistics ran behind national trends. In fact, 40,000 fewer people were working in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney left than when he arrived."

Frank added, "He had no interest in being governor of Massachusetts other than to help him run for the presidency. ... He wasn't very good at governing."

Frank has long been a vocal critic of Romney and has been a controversial figure himself. He is an openly gay member of Congress who was formally reprimanded by Congress in 1990 for his relationship with a male prostitute who claimed to run an escort service out of Frank's apartment when he was not home.

Ironically, Republican Larry Craig of Idaho at that time pushed for more severe penalties for Frank, such as expulsion or censure. Craig, now a senator, is involved in his own scandal after pleading guilty to lewd conduct in a Minneapolis airport restroom.


E-mail: lee@desnews.com