Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mitt Romney (1994): Candidate for Senator from Massachusetts

October 19, 1994

Mitt Romney, the Republicans' hope for their biggest single victory of the fall, uses television to portray the 62-year-old incumbent as fat and feeble, an irrelevant symbol of the 1960's who stands in the way of welfare reform, the death penalty and a smaller government that, the challenger says, would let the economy boom.

This week Mr. Kennedy replied, confronting the season's anti-government mood at a rally on Sunday at historic Faneuil Hall. "I stand for the idea that public service can make a difference in the lives of people," he said. "I reject the laissez-faire notion that all government has to do is get out of the way, and kind, caring, generous, unselfish, wealthy private interests and power will see to it that prosperity trickles down to ordinary people."

The messages of the two candidates differ as night does from day. On Saturday, for instance, Mr. Romney walked the tidy streets of South Boston, where anger against Mr. Kennedy over school busing that began in 1974 still simmers. "The 1960's liberal agenda hasn't worked," he told people as he shook hands. "It is time to reform the reforms."

To those opponents, Mr. Kennedy's weight and lined face reflect years of hard living. Mr. Romney's ads, showing a grainy, overweight Senator lumbering about, reinforce the point. In one, Mr. Kennedy, who broke his back in an airplane crash in 1964 and has worn a brace ever since, is shown painfully lowering himself onto a bench while the voice-over accuses the incumbent of "stooping" to attack Mr. Romney.

October 25, 1994

Mr. Romney has cast himself as a moderate Republican, socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

Mr. Romney says he supports a woman's right to abortion but opposes forcing states to help pay for the procedures, except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother's health. He supports Federal legislation that would prohibit discrimination in the workplace against homosexuals but opposes legalizing gay marriages. He favors the death penalty, which Massachusetts does not have, and would require welfare recipients to work and to be regularly tested for drugs.

But with two weeks left in the campaign, a frequent complaint about Mr. Romney continues to be heard: that after he is finished attacking his opponent his message grows vague. "Romney to this day is defining himself as not Ted Kennedy," Mr. Chervinsky said. "His problem ultimately is that he's a little bit too slick and a little bit too light."

Mr. Romney made his millions as founder and chief executive of Bain Capital, a Boston concern that has backed such ventures as Staples, the retail office supply chain, and Domain, a furniture company. In 1992 and 1993, he earned $11 million. Since then he has poured $2 million of his own money into the Senate race.

October 26, 1994

A political neophyte, Mr. Romney had scored earlier in the campaign mainly by attacking Senator Kennedy and arguing that it was time for a change. Like many other challengers in this year of anti-incumbent fervor, Mr. Romney had spent little time defining a program of his own.

October 26, 1994

A conservative political action committee withdrew its support for Mr. Romney on today, saying his performance in a debate with Senator Kennedy proved he was an "anti-family social liberal."

L. Brent Bozell 3d, director of the Conservative Victory Committee in Alexandria, Va., said the organization had urged its members to donate money to help Mr. Romney defeat Mr. Kennedy.

But he said he changed his mind after seeing the debate on Tuesday night. "Mitt Romney Republicans are no different than Ted Kennedy Democrats when it comes to cultural issues," Mr. Bozell said.

October 28, 1994

Mr. Romney also sought to emphasize his independence from other Republicans. Questioned by a college student, he disavowed plans in House Republican candidates' "Contract With America" that would cut money available for student loans. "I'm not going to Washington to toe the line" and back all Republican positions, he said.

In a demonstration of that independence, Mr. Romney shifted on one issue tonight, saying he now opposed longstanding Republican proposals to reduce the Federal tax on capital gains.
Kennedy defeated Romney in the election 58-41

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