According to the New York Times, Mitt Romney has come out swinging to try to change or at least complicate his reputation as the biggest flip-flopper among the leading Republican nominees:

‘On Thursday, he gave an interview in New Hampshire in which he sought to deflect criticism on [the flip-flopping] front, telling The Associated Press that “everybody in this race that I know has changed their mind on certain positions, and they’ve done so as they gained more experience.” […]

‘“Senator McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts,” Mr. Romney told The A.P. “Now he’s for them. He was opposed to ethanol. Now he’s for it. He said he was opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. Now he’s for overturning Roe v. Wade.”

‘“Mayor Giuliani has made a number of changes over his career, and there are places where I’ve made changes,” Mr. Romney said in the interview. […]

The article goes on to discuss McCain’s response to some of the charges:

‘[McCain] told reporters that although he did not originally support President Bush’s tax cuts — which he argued at the time would lead to deficits and benefit the rich — he had proposed his own set of more affordable tax cuts, which he said would have left money to help shore up Social Security and for contingencies, like the war in Iraq.

‘And he explained that he did not support repealing the cuts now, because doing so would amount to a tax increase for millions of people.

‘Mr. McCain was cool toward ethanol in 2000, but has recently been promoting it as a method to help the United States become less dependent on foreign oil. He said Thursday, however, that he still opposed subsidizing it. […]

‘When it comes to abortion, Mr. Romney was apparently referring to an interview Mr. McCain, who has always opposed abortion, gave in 1999 in which he said that he would not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

‘More recently, Mr. McCain has spoken in favor of a South Dakota effort to ban almost all abortions. At a rally in Columbia, on Thursday he praised the Supreme Court for its recent decision upholding the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. […]

‘…he noted that “I have voted pro-life for 24 years, consistently, without any deviation.”

The article notes that Romney explained that his comments were not intended as attacks but, to quote one of his campaign spokesmen, as efforts to provide “a reflection of the fact that sometimes people change with the benefit of experience.”  We can surely expect more such high-mindedness from the candidates as this long race continues to heat up.

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