Back in March, the Ohio legislature passed a Wisconsin-like law limiting unions' collective bargaining rights. But labor groups and Democrats were able to get a referendum on the law, known as Issue 2, onto November's ballot. If the referendum passes, the law stays; if it loses, the law is scrapped. Recent polls indicate that the referendum is going to lose, big time. But the GOP isn't giving up. Today, volunteers were manning a phone bank in Terrace Park, Ohio, trying to encourage people to vote yes on Issue 2. And who should come by to encourage them but presidential candidate Mitt Romney! For all normal humans, this would indicate support for Issue 2. But that's not what it meant, necessarily, for Mitt Romney. As CNN reports, Romney, bizarrely, refused to say whether he supports the law or not:
Romney expressed generic support for Kasich's efforts to curtail union rights, but he would not say whether he supports or opposes the specific measures.
"I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues," Romney said, only after repeated questions from reporters. "Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party's efforts here."
If he supports the GOP's "efforts here," and the GOP's efforts consist of trying to get people to support the anti-union law, then Romney clearly supports the anti-union law. And yet Romney doesn't just say that. Why? Maybe because he fully expects to be the Republican presidential nominee, and he wants to win Ohio.
Of course, Romney's reputation for basing his political positions on expedience instead of conviction is what conservatives hate the most about him. To do it so transparently, and on an issue that engenders such passion among GOP voters, was a major miscalculation, one on which Rick Perry is already capitalizing. But it's not just Perry who's upset. RedState's Erick Erickson, the Club for Growth, and the tea party group FreedomWorks have all expressed varying degrees of anger or disappointment in Romney's wishy-washiness.
Meanwhile, does anyone believe that Ohio's union families will give Romney any credit for just barely avoiding an explicit endorsement of the anti-union law? We doubt it. So this was just a really bad decision, is what we're saying.
Romney avoids weighing in on Ohio union fight [Political Ticker/CNN]
Team Perry hits Romney over Ohio hedge [Politico]
Conservatives Turn On Romney Over Ohio Union-Busting Law [TPM]