Romney: McCain Still Outside the Conservative Mainstream
By Michael D. Shear
ST. PAUL -- During the heat of the Republican primary battle, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney blasted his rival, Sen. John McCain, as "outside the mainstream of conservative Republican thought."
But today? Would Romney say that now?
In an interview this afternoon, the one-time McCain rival said he still stands by his assessment of how he and McCain stack up against each other in terms of their conservative credentials.
"I still think my views on those issues are more consistent with the mainstream of my party, but you know what? He won. And I didn't," Romney told editors and reporters at The Washington Post.
The comments came in a wide-ranging discussion in which Romney repeatedly blasted Barack Obama for failing to have enough experience to be president.
"On the Democratic side, you have a nominee who is of so little experience in foreign affairs, domestic affairs, of any affairs, that I wonder how it happened," he said.
At one point, Romney stumbled a bit. During a criticism of Obama's past statements on Pakistan, he said, "we're going to go in and bomb Pakistan if we find Barack Obama -- excuse me, excuse me -- Osama bin Laden."
But his assessment of McCain's conservative credentials were the most interesting part of the conversation, because they were so off-message.
"Those comments pointed out differences between he and I on issues. I continue to have those differences with John McCain on those issues," he said. "But during my campaign, and during the debates, I always said I respect John McCain. He's a national hero and a person who is without question qualified to be president of the United States."
He went on: "There were a number of positions that he took that were more liberal, in my opinion, than my positions. And there are probably some vice versa ... I disagree with him on his original vote on the Bush tax cuts. I disagreed with the final version of McCain-Kennedy. I disagreed with him on campaign finance reform. I still do."
It's amazing how free a short-lister is to talk when they're no longer on the short list.
Posted at 7:05 PM ET on Sep 4, 2008
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