Quite simply, there is nothing that Mitt Romney won’t flip-flop on in his headlong dash for fourth, maybe third, place in the Republican primaries. Those nasty old earmarks, for example:
Taking questions from a crowd full of mostly college students at St. Anselm Collegeâ€™s New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Romney was helpfully asked by one man to explain his differences on economic issues with Giuliani â€” who polls indicate has drawn even with the former Massachusetts governor in this state.
Appearing prepared for the question, Romney noted Giulianiâ€™s opposition, as mayor of New York, to the line-item veto and recalled his own many vetoes on Beacon Hill.
“I line-item-vetoed hundreds of items as governor of Massachusetts â€” hundreds â€” and that vehicle is the most powerful tool a president of the United States could have to rein in unnecessary pork barrel, earmarked spending,” Romney said.
Which are unlike, say, something that The Man Who Saved the Olympics might have come looking for:
Mr. Romney, who had made his nearly $350 million fortune at Bain Capital, a Boston private equity firm, also soon showed he could pull in money for the Games.
But the federal governmentâ€™s contributions, thanks to Mr. Romney, were also immense. By the time the Games were over, about $342 million in federal money to plan and stage the Winter Games had flowed into Utah, a record outlay for the Olympics and nearly $50 million more in constant dollars than was spent for the Atlanta Olympics, according to a report in 2001 by the Government Accountability Office.
And much of that money was from earmarks, which Mr. Romney now often calls politically motivated and wasteful. â€œThese earmarks are embarrassing, and theyâ€™re embarrassing for my party as well as the other party,â€ he said in Marshalltown, Iowa, during a recent campaign swing.
But in the three years leading up to the Games, taxpayers ended up paying for a lot of things that had little to do with downhill racing or the perfect triple Lutz, including $33,000 for an Olympic horse adoption program and $55,000 for the Department of Justice to assess and resolve racial tension in Salt Lake City. More than half of the federal money was spent on security, but the federal government also footed the bill for shuttle buses, drug testing, park-and-ride lots and upgrades to the lighting at Salt Lake City International Airport.
Mr. Romney did reject some spending requests, annoying local politicians. But he also got behind some huge projects that he admitted at the time and in his book were not â€œmust havesâ€ for the Olympics, especially a light-rail system in Salt Lake City that some politicians were keen on having.
No mention of the $200,000 to develop the combination rooftop ski rack/dog carrier…