A Campaign Finance Mitt-Flop
While several Republicans who attended the Republican Study Committee (RSC) retreat greeted Romney’s remarks on abortion with skepticism, his condemnation of changes to campaign-finance rules struck a positive chord with the entire audience. Romney specifically criticized the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act sponsored by his rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“Referring to the bill, [Romney] called it ‘one of the worst things in my lifetime,’” one conservative Republican said. “The place erupted. That was by far the biggest applause line.”
A South Carolina-based publication, The State, recently reported that Romney highlighted McCain’s support of campaign regulations in order to draw a contrast with his rival. “That’s a terrible piece of legislation,” Romney said, according to the report. “It hasn’t taken the money out of politics … [But] it has hurt my party.”
A review of Romney’s public statements from his 1994 senatorial and 2002 gubernatorial campaigns reveal that he once touted stringent campaign-finance modifications.
A Boston Globe article from July 1994 reported that Romney publicly advocated placing spending limits on congressional campaigns and abolishing political action committees (PACs). The Quincy Patriot Ledger and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported in the fall of 2002 that Romney proposed taxing political contributions to finance publicly funded campaigns.
Spending limits on congressional campaigns, abolishing PAC's, taxing political contributions, and publicly funded campaigns. These reforms would be more stringent than what was implemented by McCain-Feingold. In fact the reporter notes that earlier versions of the bill included spending limits but they were struck for being too controversial.
It will be interesting to see if Governor Romney addresses this while he's in the state today.