The Democratic Party enlisted Congressman Barney Frank today to spindle fellow Bay Stater Mitt Romney in its series of conference calls to skewer potential Republican vice presidential picks.
Romney has been one of John McCain's most enthusiastic surrogates, promoting McCain's positions and blasting Democrat Barack Obama.
Frank, however, called Romney the "most intellectually inconsistent politician" he has ever known, citing the former Massachusetts governor's changes of position on abortion, gay rights, and other issues.
Romney ran against Senator Edward M. Kennedy from the left in 1994, was a moderate as governor, and moved further to the right during the Republican primaries, showing the right wing's "strong grip" on the party, Frank said.
Romney will "say whatever he thinks will win the next election," Frank said. "This man has zigzagged extraordinarily."
McCain was "contemptuous" of what he called Romney's flip-flops when they were rivals, and he was right to be, Frank said.
And as governor, the congressman said, Romney, despite his business acumen, showed "no penchant" and little interest in the job.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom responded: "It shouldn't surprise anyone that bitterly divisive Democrats like Barney Frank don't have anything good to say about Republicans. Fair-minded people look at Mitt Romney and see a strong leader, a man of character and integrity who was elected as governor at a time of job loss and recession and who managed to balance the budget all four years without raising taxes and get the Massachusetts economy moving again."
And the Massachusetts Republican Party used the opportunity to attack Romney's successor as governor, Democrat Deval Patrick.
"It's no wonder the Massachusetts Democrat party wants to change the subject away from America's Worst governor," the party said in a statement. "While Mitt Romney fought for reform and lower taxes, Governor Patrick has raised taxes and has failed to implement any reform. Instead of smearing the last Governor who fought for fiscal sanity in Massachusetts, the Democrat party should set up a conference call with America to explain to why they were the source of such spectacular failures like John Kerry and Mike Dukakis."
John Walsh, head of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, piled on, calling Romney a "disaster" for the state, and describing Romney's "gyrations" on the abortion issue as being of "Olympic proportions."
Romney is among the possible McCain running mates featured on the Democrats' website that argues that they could be the next Dick Cheney, whose popularity ratings are lower than President Bush's.
UPDATE: And fellow Republican Mike Huckabee also sort-of trashed Romney today.
"I think there are better choices for Sen. McCain that have the approval of value voters,” the former Arkansas governor, who also sought the nomination, said on Fox News Network. “The issue is that in many ways, Mitt Romney has had very definite swings of position. Not just on one or two things, but on many of the issues."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.