Romney Rejects “Moderate” Label, Would Leave Health Care Mandate to the States

Dec 16, 2007 11:10am

ABC News’ Matt Stuart Reports: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney defended his record Sunday on a wide range of issues, rejecting the notion that he ran as a "moderate" for Massachusetts Governor.

"I’ll reject that," Romney said while appearing on NBC’s "Meet the Press", when host Tim Russert claimed he had completed an "intellectual journey" on a number of issues, including abortion, immigration, and gay rights.

Romney argued that he had only changed on the issue of abortion. Romney frequently refers to his record as governor, saying that whenever a bill came to his desk regarding issues of life, he always "came down on the side of life." Romney changed to a pro-life position in 2005, while debating the issue of stem cell research in Massachusetts. Romney ran, and was elected governor on a pro-choice platform, claiming that he personally sides with life.

Romney said Sunday that while his actions were pro-life, he didn’t make changes to the existing laws in the state in order to honor the commitment he made to the people of Massachusetts.

Following Romney’s "Faith in America" speech, Romney was asked about his supporter Rev. Bob Jones referring to the Mormon Church as "erroneous."

Romney said that religions were in a "battle for souls," and have differing views on Christianity, but claimed that Jones "does believe that I’m the right person for President."

"I think he agrees our church needs pastors, but the White House needs a president," Romney added.

Romney also addressed the issue of African-Americans in the Mormon Church, who weren’t allowed to hold positions in the church until 1978. Romney suggested that his family did not support that aspect of the church teaching and that his father was a strong supporter of civil rights. "Even to this day it’s very emotional," Romney claimed as his eyes seemed to water.

On the issue of health-care, Romney reaffirmed his support for the Massachusetts plan he put into effect, and also carefully embraced a mandate based system. "I think it’s a terrific idea," Romney said, adding that while he is a "federalist" and would allows states to craft their own plans, he expected states would take a mandate approach.

Finally, Romney continued to hit former Gov. Mike Huckabee on his claim that President Bush has an "arrogant bunker mentality," saying Huckabee should apologize to the President.

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