Last week, Mitt Romney rolled out his formal announcement about his presidential ambitions and was met with a torrent of criticism from fellow candidates, other non-candidates, outside groups, and failed Senate candidate Joe Miller, for some reason. For the most part, the internecine opposition has focused on the fact that Mitt Romney invented "Obamacare" in Massachusetts. But Romney's enjoying a break from all of that this week. Now everyone is mad at him for his position on climate change!
And what is that position? Well, it's pretty prosaic:
"I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that," he told a crowd of about 200 at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire.
"It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors."
Romney also said some rather ordinary things about energy efficiency:
ROMNEY: I also want to see us become more energy efficient. I’m told that we use almost twice as much energy per person as does a European, and more like three times as much as does a Japanese citizen. We could do a lot better. I’d like to see our vehicles, and our homes, and our systems of insulation and so forth become far more efficient. I believe that we have a role in trying to encourage that to happen.
As Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard points out, back in 2008, it was pretty ho-hum to hear a GOP candidate say stuff like this, but now, "conservatives have declared Romney's statement to be 'political suicide.'" Today's Washington Post contains much the same message:
So far, Romney’s reviews from the right are not positive. His views about climate change in particular put him at odds with many in his party’s base.
“Bye-bye, nomination,” Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday on his radio talk show after playing a clip of Romney’s climate remark. “Another one down. We’re in the midst here of discovering that this is all a hoax. The last year has established that the whole premise of man-made global warming is a hoax, and we still have presidential candidates that want to buy into it.”
Then came the Club for Growth, which issued a white paper criticizing Romney. “Governor Romney’s regulatory record as governor contains some flaws,” the report said, “including a significant one — his support of ‘global warming’ policies.”
Post reporters Philip Rucker and Peter Wallsten say that Romney "could easily have said what he knew many in his party’s base wanted to hear." And, indeed, why didn't he? One campaign adviser provides the answer:
“The fact that he doesn’t change his position...that’s the upside for us,” said one Romney adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the campaign. “He’s not going to change his mind on these issues to put his finger in the wind for what scores points with these parts of the party.”
Oh, he's not going to put his finger in the wind and pander to people by changing his answer? I don't know. History has borne out that flip-flopping on positions is the cornerstone of Romney's political strategy. (That's probably why the guy saying otherwise is anonymous and "not authorized to speak on behalf of the campaign.")