Mitt Romney the GOP Candidate vs. Romney the Nominee

PHOTO: In this photo taken Oct. 4, 2012, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks in Denver. Romney is shifting sharply to the political center as he begins to deliver a closing argument aimed at a slice of moderate,
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

For 15 months, Mitt Romney has been out on the campaign trail giving speeches, interviews and debating his opponents. But as the months pile up, so too have the Republican candidate's statements on everything from taxes to immigration to abortion.

With a mere four weeks until Election Day, Romney seems to have toned down the "severely conservative" rhetoric of the GOP primary in favor of more mild talking points for the final stretch of campaigning.

Here are five policies on which Romney has shifted his position since securing the GOP nomination.

Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens

GOP Primary: "Yes, I would have" signed a bill allowing the government to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.

When asked during a GOP primary debate in January whether he would sign the National Defense Reauthorization Act, which authorizes the military's budget, even though it gives the president power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens, Romney didn't hesitate in his support of the bill.

"Yes, I would have," Romney said of whether he would sign it. "And I do believe that it is appropriate to have in our nation the capacity to detain people who are threats to this country, who are members of al Qaeda."

General Election: "I'll look at that particular piece of legislation."

Romney appeared to shy away from his stern conviction stated this month during a town hall event in Ohio when an audience member asked a nearly identical question about his support of the National Defense Reauthorization Act.

"As to that specific piece of legislation, I'm happy to take a look at it," Romney responded, before adding that he didn't believe "this is a time for us to be pulling back from our vigilance protecting America and keeping us safe from the kinds of threats we face around the world."


GOP Primary: "I support the Hyde Amendment. ... I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy. ... I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act."

During the GOP primary, Romney wrote an op-ed in the National Review outlining three pieces of abortion-restricting legislation that he supports and declaring that he is "pro-life" and supports "the reversal of Roe v. Wade."

The three legislative initiatives Romney outlined were: the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions, the Mexico City Policy, which eliminates federal funding for international aid groups that promote or provide abortions abroad and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which outlaws abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

General Election: "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

Despite supporting abortion-restricting policies during the primary, Romney said in an interview with the Des Moines Register on Tuesday that he would not make abortion-related legislation part of his agenda if elected president.

Romney said he would enact the Mexico City Policy through executive order and noted that the Hyde Amendment has already been enacted. He did not address whether he would advocate for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.


GOP Primary: "The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here."

Romney took a hard line on immigration during the GOP primary, supporting "self-deportation" and criticizing "magnet" policies such as the Dream Act.

During a January GOP debate, Romney said the way to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in America is "self-deportation."

"I just don't think it's fair to the people who have loved ones waiting in line legally to come to America and say, guess what? We're going to encourage a wave of illegal immigration by giving amnesty of some kind to those who have come here illegally," Romney said.

The former Massachusetts governor also said during the primary that he would not sign the Dream Act, which provides a path to citizenship for young, undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children if they attend college or join the military. Romney said he supports a "path to permanent residency" only for those who serve in the military.

Romney strongly criticized his GOP opponent Rick Perry for giving in-state tuition rates to "illegal aliens" taken to the United States before their 18th birthday, saying the policy was a "magnet" encouraging more people to immigrate illegally.

General Election: "The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid."

After securing the nomination, Romney's opposition to policies that help young, undocumented immigrants obtain legal status softened. The GOP nominee said he would not take away the work permits that President Obama authorized for those so-called "Dreamers" under the president's deferred action program.

"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," Romney told the Denver Post. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."

Obama's deferred action plan grants two-year work permits to some undocumented immigrants who are younger than 31 and who came to the United States before their 16th birthday, the same group of people who benefits from the Texas' Dream Act that Romney dubbed a "magnet" for illegal immigration.

Health Care

GOP Primary: "If I'm president of the United States, I will repeal 'Obamacare.'"

Romney's claim that he would "repeal 'Obamacare'" was a go-to applause line for the candidate throughout the GOP primary, whether during town hall events, speeches or debates.

After the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in June, Romney said he would "act to repeal 'Obamacare'" on his first day as president, adding that it was a "bad law" and a "bad policy."

General Election: "I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform."

While Romney touts his planned repeal of President Obama's health care law, he said this week that he planned to keep "a number of things" that he likes from the law that is largely unpopular among conservatives.

"Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," Romney said last month on "Meet the Press." "One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage."

The Romney campaign later clarified that its candidate did not believe insurance companies should have to give new insurance policies to people with pre-existing conditions, only that those people should not be kicked off their current policies because of a pre-existing condition.

The GOP nominee also said he would keep the policy that "allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age that they like," likely referring to the widely popular provision in Obama's health care law that allows young people to stay on their parents insurance until age 26.


GOP Primary: "We're going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent."

Romney's tax plan calls for reducing the tax rate at every tax bracket by 20 percent. During the GOP primary, he touted his plan as one that would reduce taxes for "everyone," including high-income earners.

"We're going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent," Romney said during a GOP primary debate in February.

General Election: "I am not reducing taxes on high income tax payers."

But after securing the nomination, Romney has walked back his assertion that he would cut taxes for the wealthy, a position that stands in stark contrast to Obama's plan to raise taxes on people who earn more than $200,000.

Romney now emphasizes, as he did during the first presidential debate last week, that his plan would not "reduce the share" of taxes that high-income earners pay.

"High-income taxpayers are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those numbers are going to come down," Romney said on "Meet the Press" in September. "Otherwise they would get a tax break, and I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high-income tax payers."

Tune in to on Thursday for livestreaming coverage of the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz in Danville, Ky. Coverage kicks off with ABC News' live preview show at noon, and full debate coverage begins at 8 p.m.

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