Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney hosted a conference call with the Workforce Fairness Institute on Monday in an attempt to drum up opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. Ideologically, it was an obvious position for the 2008 Republican presidential candidate to take. Politically, lending his voice to a cause dear to the conservative movement's heart will undoubtedly spur additional speculation that Romney is gearing up for another run at the Oval Office in 2012.
The former governor has been building the institutional base within the Republican Party that he lacked during the '08 primary. While not in elected office, he has lent his voice to various other candidates and committees, either through speeches or fundraising. His appearance at the CPAC convention was one of the most widely attended and crested with him winning the conservative group's informal presidential straw poll for the third year in a row. One highly respected Republican strategist said he was incredibly impressed with the path Romney was taking. "He's building relationships and staying relevant," said the strategist, who added that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be well suited to follow such an example.
The EFCA call was another step in that process. A rallying cry for conservatives, the legislation doesn't lend itself well to the Massachusetts Republican. Romney's former firm, Bain Capital, was responsible for the loss of jobs for hundreds of workers and was accused of using off shore tax havens to store its profits. As Eddie Vale of the AFL-CIO noted in an email to reporters: "As you will see below Romney's business career is the PERFECT EXAMPLE of why workers need the Employee Free Choice Act."
And yet, the GOP and business community is more than willing to use the multi-millionaire former CEO as a pitchman for its anti-EFCA efforts. In part because Romney dutifully plays the part.
"This is not just a matter of 'oh, let's help the working folks,'" he declared during Monday's conference call. "That's not what this is. This is a matter of: 'let's get the money for the unions.' This is really targeted at small business as well as big business. Take something like Wal-Mart, 1.4 million U.S employees at Wal-Mart. If unions were able to get, you know, $400 in union dues annually from each one of those folks, you are talking a half a billion dollars in revenues to unions. And a hundred million dollars would go into elections in this country, their favorite politicians. This is about money and about politics and it is sacrificing the rights and freedoms of the American worker to be able to get big bucks for the unions bosses."
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