More and more conservatives are embracing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as one of their own, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published Wednesday.
In the survey, 85 percent of self-described conservative Republicans said Romney’s views on most issues are “about right.” Only 9 percent said his views are “too liberal.”
In an April edition of the same poll, 72 percent of conservative Republicans said Romney’s views are about right, and 23 percent said they are too liberal.
At that time, four months ago, Romney was just emerging from a contentious GOP primary season in which rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich repeatedly questioned Romney’s conservative credentials, calling him a “Massachusetts moderate.”
Early in his political career, Romney appeared not to mind such a label. He voted in the Democratic presidential primary in 1992, telling the Washington Post, “I’m not a partisan politician. My hope is that after this election, it will be the moderates of both parties who will control the Senate, not the Jesse Helmses.”
An independent until 1993, Romney registered as a Republican that year to run for US Senate against Democrat Ted Kennedy in 1994. He vowed during that campaign to be better than Kennedy on gay rights issues and promised not to oppose abortion rights, a position he maintained when he ran for governor in 2002.
On the national stage, during presidential bids in 2008 and again this year, Romney has staked out more conservative positions on social issues and outlined a vision of small government, low taxes and strong defense—classically conservative principles.
President Obama’s reelection campaign has tried to label Romney a flip-flopper in the minds of voters, but Wednesday’s poll indicates conservative Republicans are increasingly buying in to Romney.
“If you go down and sit with Tea Party folks anyplace—forget about the names, just put a resume together of what you want in the next president—you do that, you end up with Mitt Romney’s resume,” Romney campaign adviser Ron Kaufman said Tuesday at a breakfast hosted by Politico at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “So he actually is the Tea Party movement.”