Mitt Romney's 'incredible' waffling on Ohio's union fight

The slow-and-steady GOP frontrunner makes an unforced error by punting on Ohio Gov. John Kasich's anti-union crackdown. Just how bad is this?

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney raised a red flag for conservative Republicans Tuesday when he didn't explicitly support Ohio Gov. John Kasich's anti-union measure.
(Image credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

"Tell me if you've heard this one," says Michael Brendan Dougherty at The Atlantic: "Mitt Romney walks into an Ohio phone bank then shoots himself in the face." On Tuesday, the GOP presidential hopeful visited a Republican call center in Ohio where activists were drumming up support for a deeply unpopular ballot measure (Issue 2). If passed on Nov. 8, the measure would ratify sweeping anti-public union measures (like tough restrictions on collective bargaining) championed by Gov. John Kasich (R) and other conservatives. But in one of those "incredible moments in politics," says CNN's Peter Hamby, Romney refused to endorse the measure while visiting the call center. "I am not speaking about the particular ballot measure," which "I am not terribly familiar with," he said when pressed. "But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government" and "the Republican Party's efforts here." Conservatives are furious. Did Romney mess up?

Romney blew it, big time: It would be bad for any top-tier Republican to throw Kasich's unions law under the bus, says Erick Erickson at RedState. But for a shameless shape-shifter like Romney to do so — and in front of activists trying to save the measure, no less — it's "a huge freaking deal." This is exactly why conservatives don't trust Romney. And it's not even good politics: "Typically, when a politician stands for nothing except his own election, he winds up not getting elected."

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