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The Myth of the Bipartisan Romney

During this campaign, and especially during the three debates, Mitt Romney has repeatedly proclaimed himself candidate that can reach across the aisle and build a consensus for good public policy. Sarah Jones reveals just how false that claim is, pointing out that Romney vetoed a staggering 800 bills in his term as Massachusetts governor — and got almost 90% of them overridden.

At the first Presidential debate, Romney said, “I figured out from Day 1 I had to get along, and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done.” But Romney liked vetoes so much, he used his vetoes in an ad titled “I like vetoes” during his 2008 run….

In the ad in which Romney tells us how much he likes vetoes, and he ends by saying, “I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington.” These are not the words of someone who is bipartisan, but they are also not the words of someone who understands the power of the Presidency. Unlike a Massachusetts governor, the President can’t line-item veto.

Vetoes don’t scream bipartisanship, and Romney had so many of them that it’s obvious he was on bad terms with the legislators from both parties as Governor. All told, Romney issued 800 vetoes in his one term as Governor. 800. Nearly all of them were overridden – 707 to be exact. Romney doesn’t mention that part in his “I like vetoes” ad.

Yes, some of these vetoes were of the line-item variety, which a president doesn’t have, but that’s still an astonishing number of vetoes. And the fact that almost all of them were overridden is pretty strong evidence against his self-declared ability to work across the aisle.

Comments

  1. Didaktylos says

    I suppose you could say that being able to piss off both parties at the same time is bipartisan

  2. Dago Red says

    The raw numbers sound interesting but I have no frame of reference to know whether they are truly unuaual or not (or how unusual they might actually be). what is the average number of vetoes for that office? What is the averge percentage overridden?

  3. says

    @3

    There are going to be times in life when events are not going to happen regularly enough for you to be able to compare a number with with hundreds of other, similarly generated numbers.

    There’s more to life than identical, independently distributed random variables.

  4. davidworthington says

    This does, however, magnify Obama’s poor debate performance in the first debate. This has been common knowledge since the Republican debates that were interminable. Obama should have been able to jump on this early and hard.

  5. Michael Heath says

    davidworthington writes:

    This does, however, magnify Obama’s poor debate performance in the first debate. This has been common knowledge since the Republican debates that were interminable. Obama should have been able to jump on this early and hard.

    That’s the first substantial critique of the president’s performance in the first debate that was based on the quality of his content rather than the style of his delivery. Thanks for pointing this out.

  6. mikeyb says

    Except for perhaps being the second coming of Gordon Gekko or Charles Foster Kane, or he wears magic underwear, what about anything Romney says or does isn’t a myth?

  7. says

    The problem Obama faced was trying to anticipate which lies Romney was going to go with in the first debate. How can you fact check an opponent who will literally say anything and adamantly deny saying things that were recorded on tape?

  8. says

    I submit to you, Ed Brayton, that you have made a grave error in this malicious characterization of Mr. Romney.

    It is “Two-faced Romney,” not “Bipartisan Romney.”

  9. says

    Maybe Mittmoroni is more into worshipping Janus than JESUS. Well, Janus and Mammon.

    I’m waiting for Ed’s post on the Mittmoroni/Pauliewingnutz campaign attempts to paint them as “compassionate conservatives” now that Chris Christie, of all people, has praised Mr. Obama’s behavior re: Sandy.

  10. baal says

    shripathikamath stumbled upon the net and intimated the following notion, “…this malicious characterization of Mr. Romney.”

    Would that it were possible to maliciously characterize Mr. Romney. He’s been on all sides of every issue and it looks like his views on bipartisanship are no exception. It’s not mean to point out his views…all of them in their infinite variety. If Mr. Romney cared about his views, it’d be easier to call his critics malicious.

  11. dogmeat says

    The raw numbers sound interesting but I have no frame of reference to know whether they are truly unuaual or not (or how unusual they might actually be). what is the average number of vetoes for that office? What is the averge percentage overridden?

    dago @2

    I don’t know that you could find a tabulated record without doing some research. I can give you a couple of comparative examples though:

    Janet Napolitano, in six years as the governor of Arizona shattered the state record for vetoes, she finished with 180. If you extrapolate her six year mark into a full two terms, she would finish with 240+/-. If she had only served one term, at the same pace, would have had 120.

    Perry set the record in Texas with a single year 79 veto record. If he had kept up that pace, he’d have finished with 632 vetoes. As it turns out, he cut way back on the number of vetoes and didn’t even manage to break the 180 veto record for the state. By the end of 2005, roughly equivalent to Romney’s single term in MA, he only had 130 vetoes.

    Romney’s 844 vetoes in four years is rather staggering when compared to the two “record setters” from AZ and TX. I’ve tried but cannot find a reference to the veto record prior to Romney, it is buried in recent commentaries.

    The closest thing I can find to a similar situation is with Schwarzenegger in California. After 5 years as governor he had set the state record for vetoes with 415. That was presented as 35% of the legislation put before him (the previous record was 25%). Even with that case, he averaged out at less than half the vetoes of Romney with an extra year in office.

  12. martinc says

    Given Romney’s predilection for being on both sides of a position at once, depending on who’s listening, it’s possible that he is able to reach across the aisle … and shake hands with himself on the other side.

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