It’s not likely to jeopardize his nomination, but Mitt Romney had a bad time in the Republican debate last night.
Here are three moments that really opened him up to criticism and mockery.
First, Rick Perry and the moderators challenged Mitt Romney to make his tax-returns public. Romney could never find a way to say “Yes, I will” or “None of your business” but instead stumbled through a long answer about how he’ll “consider” doing it. He looked like he was malfunctioning. Watch:
Four years ago, Romney was teased for describing himself as a “lifelong hunter” when in fact he’d only ever been hunting twice and hilariously described his game as “varmints.” Pressed on hunting again last night, Romney couldn’t remember if he’d been aiming for “moose” or “elk.” (Maine only issues licesnses to hunt 3,140 moose each year.) Then Romney said with absolutely no conviction whatsoever that he’d be “delighted” to go hunting again if given the chance. The audience was just laughing at him.
Then there was a third moment (not yet on video) where Romney was asked about how and why he has changes position on issues. So he brought up his evolving position on abortion:
“You know, the issue where I change my mind, which obviously draws a lot of attention was that when I was running for governor, I said I would leave the law in place as it related to abortion. And I thought I could go in that narrow path between my personal belief and letting government stay out of the issue.”
There is a big problem with this explanation. It makes it seem like Romney was “personally pro-life” when he was running for the Massachucetts Senate seat or as governor. In fact, Romney argued then that he was personally pro-choice, and cited the story of a young relative who died in a botched abotion in the early 1960s. He delivered this story as a powerful testimony to his personal convictions on the issue.
By fibbing about his evolution last night, Romney incited reporters to grill him about it in the future. And it isn’t going to play well in the future.