“We’re gonna have to have a president who can work across the aisle,” Romney said in his closing statement in the final presidential debate on foreign policy.
Given Romney’s many references to his “successful” governorship–the executive experience he never neglects to mention–you might think the former governor was a shining beacon for bipartisan leadership; a haven for right and leftwing moderates. As with many things he says, however, Romney and reality part ways on the issue of working across the aisle. As Sarah Jones with PoliticusUSA notes:
In 2006, his last year as Massachusetts’ Governor (in which he was absent more than half of the year), Romney issued 250 vetoes, all of which were overturned by what the Romney camp dubbed a “hostile” legislature. It’s not just Democrats who didn’t get along with Romney, though.
“I was in a state where my legislature was 87% Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle,” says Romney on national television, closing the debate. The reality?
A Republican state representative said that Romney had a tough time dealing with the legislature, especially in his first year, because he was used to giving orders as an executive, rather than working with people to reach a consensus. Republican George Peterson said, “He was used to being a top executive, ‘and this is where we’re going, and this is how we’re going to do it.’ And this animal [the state Legislature] doesn’t work that way. Not at all. Especially when it’s overwhelmingly ruled by one party.”
Romney had such a “tough time” during his four years as governor of Massachusetts that he vetoed more than 800 pieces of legislation during his tenure. 700 of those vetoes were overridden, some of them unanimously:
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.
As we liberals are well aware, sometimes to our chagrin, the President has practically made a case study of reaching across the aisle. Contrast Romney’s record as governor with Obama’s as president: In nearly four years, the president has used two vetoes while congressional Republicans have broken filibuster records.
Since we can safely assume Romney does not indeed have a case of Romnesia and does clearly recall his four years as governor–or at least can read about it online like the rest of us–the only logical conclusion is that his insistence on an ability to compromise was an implicit endorsement of the only major candidate with experience doing so: President Barack Obama. Finally, Mr. Romney gets something right.
Stacy Mergenthal is an activist for progressive causes and voice for the working class. She currently resides in Missouri with her family.