During Thursday night's GOP presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News questioned former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on his history of flip-flops. Citing position switches on issues such as gay rights and abortion, Wallace asked Romney if they were a matter of "principle or politics."
Romney cast his history on gay rights thusly: he said he was "firmly in support" of protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, but he was never in favor of same-sex marriage. On the matter of abortion, he said he simply changed his mind on the matter, and that "every decision [he] made as governor was on the side of life."
Wallace persisted, pointing out a letter he sent to the Log Cabin Republicans, in which he wrote, "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent." Romney's opponent, of course, was Ted Kennedy. Romney insisted during the debate that the issue at hand had been discrimination, and that in the letter, he had made the case that he was more capable at protecting the LGBT community from it than Kennedy.
In the letter, he never mentions gay marriage directly. However, he did write this: "I believe that the Clinton compromise [Don't Ask Don't Tell] was a step in the right direction. I am also convinced that it is the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation's military. That goal will only be reached when preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians is a mainstream concern, which is a goal we share."
So Romney, to this day, is suggesting that "preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians is a mainstream concern" with a full throat. But on "Don't Ask Don't Tell," Romney has not been speaking clearly. At a CNN debate, he told John King that "the answer is that Don't Ask Don't Tell should have been kept in place until conflict was over."
He also wasn't nearly as full-throated when the New Hampshire Union Leader gave him the opportunity to condemn the booing of a gay soldier that occured at a previous debate:
ROMNEY: I don’t recall whether this soldier, whether people were booing his question or just booing…
UNION LEADER: They booed as soon as he identified as a gay person.
ROMNEY: You have to look at that. I don’t know when they booed and I don’t know why they booed. But I will tell you, that the boos and applause hasn’t always coincided with my own views, but I haven’t stepped in to try and say, ‘this one is right, this one is wrong.’ Instead, I focus on the things I think I will say.
UNION LEADER: I ask because Herman Cain over the weekend was asked about it and he said in effect that he should have criticized whoever was booing in the audience.
ROMNEY: That’s…I understand his thoughts.