Romney in 2002: “I’m Someone Who is Moderate… My Views Are Progressive”

Andy Kaczynski shoots and scores again, digging out a 2002 interview in which then-gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney made a mistake that would hurt him in 2011. He stayed on message.

“I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican,” Romney told a reporter after a rally in Worcester, “that I’m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.”

I asked Romney spox Andrea Saul for some context. After all, in 2002, “progressive” was years away from being twisted and redefined by Glenn Beck into a synonym for “communist follower of Woodrow Wilson. Saul sent over a response that other naggers have been getting, too.

The very last thing the Democrats want to do is run against Mitt Romney. That is why they are focused on his campaign and not on the economy. The Democrats are continuing their campaign of deception in their strategy to ‘kill Romney.’ If anyone has a question of how Mitt Romney will govern as president, take a look at his record of creating jobs, cutting spending, and protecting the sanctity of life and traditional marriage. That was his record as Governor and that will be his record as president.

Sure, but what did he mean by “progressive”? I did a very quick Lexis check to see if Romney often used the word to describe himself. Ironically, he might have used it many times, but contemporary reporters, hearing yet another Massachusetts Republican candidate for governor stick to the Weld-Cellucci line, could have junked the quotes. But in a November 10, 2002 interview with Joe Battenfield in the Boston Herald, Romney got a very hypothetical question about a national political future. He reached for the “p” word.

I think it’s kind of silly at this point, being that I haven’t done anything yet. I’ve given my heart and energy to become governor of Massachusetts. I would like to do a good job and beyond that I haven’t a clue… and I don’t know that the world is pining for a progressive-on-social-issues governor of Massachusetts.

In 2002, Romney ran as a candidate who could be trusted on gay rights (i.e., trusted not to roll them back) and a man of personally pro-life views who would not work to ban abortion. This was the context.