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Jane Ahlin, Published October 13 2012

Ahlin: Every few days, it seems, yet another Mitt Romney

Goodness, there’s a selection of Mitt Romneys out there for Republicans to choose from – more all the time. For a while it appeared the only choices were, first, Richy-Rich Romney, the anti-tax-the-rich candidate, who told his so-much-richer-than-rich supporters that, alas, 47 percent of Americans would never vote for him because they were dependent on government money and they liked it that way.

Or, second, Hard-Right Romney, the anti-immigrant, anti-gay marriage, anti-contraception, and anti-abortion zealot who can’t wait to deport illegals, certify the religious right’s fixation on one-man-one-woman nuptials, de-fund Title X and shut down Planned Parenthood so poor women can’t get birth control, pass a human life amendment (code for “personhood,” which gives fertilized eggs the citizenship status of human beings), and appoint Supreme Court justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Just when we thought he couldn’t reinvent himself, doggoned if he didn’t shake up his infamous “Etch A Sketch” and revive the old Massachusetts Mitt, that man-am-I-a-moderate-guy who – if that were true – has not meant one thing he’s said since he started running for president back in 2007. (Well, except that he really, really wants to be president.) Chameleon of all chameleons, Extreme-Makeover Mitt has presented his party with yet another candidate.

This past week, the online publication Daily Kos underscored the sheer cheekiness of Romney’s reinvention by putting together a video of Romney debating (whom else?) himself. On one side was the Romney of the recent debate saying that he certainly would not “reduce the share of taxes paid by high- income people” because the rich didn’t need it. That was followed by the Romney on the stump saying he’d “cut taxes 20 percent on everybody” including earners in the “top 1 percent.”

Next was debate-Romney saying he resented the suggestion he didn’t want “more teachers;” he’s all for education and more teachers. That was followed by stump- Romney saying that the president didn’t “get it” in wanting to hire more teachers. Why, Romney would cut not only teachers but also firefighters and police. (He was Hard-Right Romney that day.)

Finally, there was debate-Romney saying that under his plan, “pre-existing conditions” would be covered, followed by Romney in an interview saying that a guy who didn’t have insurance before he discovered he had a heart condition shouldn’t be able to get it – that people can’t “play the game like that.” After the debate, his own campaign had to remind Romney that he is against covering pre-existing conditions.

Details, details: what’s a 180-degree turn, especially when you know and your base knows that you don’t mean it?

Nothing points up the re-re-reinvented Romney more than his words to the Des Moines Register editorial board this past week. Romney said, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” (Note the convoluted language. This is a Romney version of parsing “what is is.”)

Again, Romney’s campaign had to issue a statement saying that he “would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.” Wink-wink, nod-nod, Romney was just wooing the swing votes. (He didn’t mean it.) What he truly wants is what religious fundamentalists want: to return reproductive health care to the pre-pill Eisenhower years when men were men and women knew their place, a time when birth control was unreliable and abortion was a back-alley thing.

After all, didn’t Romney choose Paul Ryan for VP, and didn’t Ryan co-sponsor 38 anti-abortion legislative measures, including one with weird Todd (women-don’t-get-pregnant-from-rape) Akin from Missouri? Didn’t Ryan approve of the “forcible rape” addition to legislative language? Didn’t he also refer to rape as a form of “conception”?

Never mind. In the latest version of Romney, the radical is repackaged. Call it the audacity of audacity.

Ahlin writes a Sunday column for The Forum.