McCain’s 2008 Opposition Research Sheds Light on Romney’s Nonprofit-Related Positions

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January 17, 2012; Source: Buzzfeed | Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski has found a 200-page opposition research book, compiled by Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign staff, on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) in 2008. It is quite revealing. Nearly all of it is comprised of simple newspaper (and online news) clips detailing Romney’s alleged contradictory positions on a host of public policy issues. There is also a 32-page section on Bain Capital which reveals far more—and factually, too—than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s video.

For us, the interesting parts of the opposition research book are those items that relate to stories we have covered at NPQ because of their nonprofit roots, as well as Romney’s interactions with nonprofits.  We note the following (along with page numbers, should you wish to skip to that section of the report yourself):

  • Page 9:  Romney was sort of an advocate for a kind of campaign finance reform. In 2002, he supported mandating a ten percent tax on all private donations to political campaigns (including on candidates who self-financed). He also called for abolishing PACs and tightening federal campaign finance regulations in general. Romney was quoted by the McCain people as opposing the increasing influence of “monied interests” in political campaigns and favored limiting lobbyists’ gifts (see page 91). Earlier this month, the Cohen Report and the NPQ Newswire covered efforts to rein in corporate money in federal elections.
  • Page 20:  Although he seemed to disown the provision, Romney’s Massachusetts health insurance program required the appointment of a representative of Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts to the MassHealth Payment Policy Board (and Romney’s wife, Ann, made a $150 donation to Planned Parenthood; see page 18). We’ve covered attempts to defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana, though the state was hardly alone in this campaign. 
  • Page 21:  Romney’s health plan initially exempted the state’s several nonprofit Catholic hospitals from having to provide emergency contraception services to rape victims, though he eventually reversed that policy. The conflict between government programs and the limitations of Catholic charities and hospitals has been an ongoing point of interest at NPQ, which has covered this clash in Illinois and Washington, D.C.
  • Page 30:  Although serving on the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), Romney said he was not opposed to gays in the BSA and suggested that the decision should be left to local BSA troops. The national BSA upbraided him for that position.
  • Page 109:  The Heritage Foundation was very complimentary of Romney’s health insurance program for Massachusetts. Romney responded by sending Heritage a personal donation of $25,000. NPQ regularly covers the policy positions of the Heritage Foundation, including this recent comparison of Heritage’s deficit-reduction strategies with those of other think tanks
  • Page 119:  Back in 1994, Romney favored tax-supported vouchers for students to attend private schools, though he didn’t pursue that policy as governor of Massachusetts. School vouchers have long been a topic of interest on the NPQ Web site, which has recently featured stories about voucher programs in Indiana, Wisconsin, the suburbs of Denver, and Pittsburgh

Don’t we wish we had the “oppo” research on all the candidates, Republican and Democratic, to better understand what they have done with—or to—the nonprofit sector.—Rick Cohen

  • reubenr

    Thank you for a very interesting article. Mr. Romney has one of the oddest track records for a politician that I have ever seen and this article seems very consistent with everything else that has been written about him. In short, he is unprincipled. It is hard to understand what people see in this hollow man.