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Romney’s shift to middle throughout his campaign

Keith Porro and his son, Austin, stood beside their campaign trailer outside an early voting site in Pembroke Pines, Fla, as they campaigned for Mitt Romney.J Pat Carter/Associated Press

Mitt Romney has shifted the tone of his campaign in recent weeks, using three presidential debates to take a more moderate approach and appeal to voters in swing states. In some cases, his statements vary significantly from what he said during his campaign for the Republican nomination. Here are statements he has made recently, contrasted with statements he made earlier in the election contest.

Access to contraceptives

Oct. 16 (presidential debate): “I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.”


Feb. 29 (campaign statement): “Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill ­because he believes in a ­conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith.” The congressional legislation would allow employers to deny coverage of contraceptives based on “religious or moral convictions.”


Oct. 10 (Des Moines Register interview): “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

June 18, 2011 (National Review Online op-ed): “I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services. I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy to ensure that nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from America refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a method of family planning, in other countries . . . I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”



Oct. 16 (presidential debate): “The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and ­military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.”

Sept. 7, 2011 (GOP primary debate): “We’ve got 4.7 million people waiting in line legally. Let those people come in first, and those that are here illegally, they shouldn’t have a special deal.”

Pell Grants

Oct. 16 (presidential debate): “I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing.”

May 23 (campaign white paper): “Refocus Pell ­dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches.”


Oct. 22 (debate): “Well, we’re going to be finished by 2014, and when I’m president, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. . . . We’ve seen progress over the past several years. The surge has been successful and the training program is ­proceeding apace. There are now a large number of Afghan Security Forces, 350,000 that are ready to step in to provide security and we’re going to be able to make that transition by the end of 2014. So our troops will come home at that point.”

Feb. 1 (campaign stop): “The president’s mistakes, some of them are calculated on a philosophy that’s hard to understand and, sometimes, you scratch you head and say: How can he be so misguided and so naive? Today, his secretary of defense unleashed such a policy. The secretary of defense said that on a day certain, the middle of 2013, we’re going to pull out our combat troops from Afghanistan. He announced that. He announced that. So the Taliban hears it, the Pakistanis hear it, the Afghan leaders hear it. Why in the world do you go to the people that you’re fighting with and tell them the date you’re pulling out your troops? It makes absolutely no sense. His naiveté is putting in jeopardy the mission of the United States of America and our commitments to freedom. He is wrong. We need new leadership in Washington.”


Iran sanctions

Oct. 22 (debate): “They do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do, to have crippling sanctions. I would have put them in place earlier. But it’s good that we have them. Number two, something I would add today is I would tighten those sanctions.

Feb. 22 (primary debate): “This president should have put in place crippling sanctions against Iran, he did not. He decided to give Russia — he decided to give Russia their number one foreign policy objective, removal of our missile defense sites from Eastern Europe and got nothing in return. He could have gotten crippling sanctions against Iran. He did not.”

Israeli-Palestinian talks

Oct. 22 (presidential debate): “I’m convinced that with strong leadership and an effort to build a strategy based upon helping these nations reject extremism, we can see the kind of peace and prosperity the world demands.”


May 17 (fund-raiser): “Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. . . . I just say there is no way, and so, what you do is you move things along the best way you can and hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem.”

Matt Viser can be reached at