Jonathan Capehart

“If he runs again in 2016, Romney is determined to rebrand himself as authentic, warts and all, and central to that mission is making public what for so long he kept private,” reports The Post’s Philip Rucker. The story is all about how the Mormon faith of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee would be front and center of his potential third run for the White House. Great, Romney should talk more about his faith. What won’t fly is his using it to “rebrand himself as authentic” because it would raise more questions than it would answer.

The best thing to come out of the Romney campaign last time was the biographical video shown at the Tampa convention. People got to see a three-dimensional Mitt, a man who loves his family and looks out for his flock as a leader in his church. But no one saw the 10-minute film because it didn’t run in prime time. Not that anyone would have remembered seeing it thanks to Clint Eastwood.

But how does such a good man let loose on the “47 percent” at a fundraising dinner in Boca Raton, Fla., in May 2012?

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

And, I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49 [percent], he starts with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon, in some cases, emotion, whether they like the guy or not….

This was in keeping with Romney’s belief during the campaign that President Obama was giving away “more free stuff” and his assertion in defeat that “The president’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift.” But never mind.

Romney friend Fraser Bullock told Rucker that people around the former Massachusetts governor now realize that voters wanted to see more than a relentless campaign on the economy. “They want to see the human being behind all the positions and platforms,” he said. That’s very true. But how can we trust positions and platforms espoused by Romney 3.0? Rolling Stone detailed in August 2012 how Romney has flipped and flopped on a host of hot-button issues during his political career.

Romney once said that abortions should be “safe and legal” and that Roe. v. Wade should be “sustain[ed] and support[ed].” Today, he’s “firmly pro-life” and supports the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Romney once supported and signed an assault weapons ban for Massachusetts. In his last presidential run he was against “any gun control legislation.” Romney once believed that the planet was getting warmer and that humans were contributing to the problem. He was even at the vanguard of governors pushing to address climate change through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. During the campaign, he questioned climate-change science. But then last week, Romney said, “I’m one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that.” Romney once touted his signature health-care legislation. In the last campaign, he disowned it. And Romney said he would be stronger on gay rights than Sen. Ted Kennedy when he ran to unseat him in 1994. He supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2012.

As I argued in posts in February and October 2012, changing one’s mind on a core issue, an issue of conscience, is not uncommon in a politician. In fact, when it happens it should be respected because no doubt a lot of thought and soul-searching went into it. But changing on all of the core issues? This strains credulity and calls into question whether a politician who does so has a core at all. It bespeaks a person of unmoored convictions. One, quite frankly, who cannot be trusted. And this is why only 18 percent of voters in a national exit poll said Romney “cares about people like me.”

“In spite of the comments about the ‘47 percent,’ he now talks about lifting the poor,” Bullock told Rucker. “That’s something he’s done his whole life, but he’s done it quietly, ministering his faith and helping people who are struggling with this issue or that issue. That was all hidden last time.” This is another flip-flop that will not be helpful in Romney’s sad quest for political redemption. What’s even sadder is that if the “authentic” Romney does show up this time around, no one will believe it is really him.–Washington Post