Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney split with some of his potential 2012 Republican presidential contenders today as he credited the Obama administration with taking a prudent course toward dealing with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak amid the civil unrest roiling his country.
Launching a media whirlwind, the 2008 GOP candidate told ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" that "I think what the United States has to do is make it very clear to the people of Egypt that we stand with the voices of democracy and freedom and we also have to communicate I think as the administration has."
Later, on ABC's "The View,'' he added: "I don't think the United States should go out publicly and call for the resignation of someone who has been our friend." He suggested back channels were a more appropriate means of conveying that message.
Nonetheless, Romney made clear he felt the posture was arrived at haltingly, not decisively.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has also called for Mubarak to step aside, but he has been unbridled in his condemnation of his party's potential 2012 Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama.
Two other possible candidates, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former UN ambassador John Bolton, argue that siding with the millions of protestors who have flooded the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities could empower a potential Islamist regime, widen instability in the Middle East and threaten neighboring Israel.
Romney was careful to distinguish himself from Obama on another point: the universal health care bills each man signed into law.
While the federal law Obama signed last year contained a requirement to obtain insurance and penalties for not doing so as did the 2006 measure Romney signed as governor, he differentiated between the two.
"We addressed a problem in Massachusetts that was designed to solve problems for the people of Massachusetts,'' he said on ``The View. ``But it is wrong and unconstitutional to take what is designed for one state and say we're going to apply that in every state."
Later in the day, Romney was being interviewed by CNN's Piers Morgan, before stopping by the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York to present the nightly Top Ten list on CBS-TV's ``The Late Show with David Letterman."
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 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.