Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Mitt Romney is not a flip-flopper

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Sat July 7, 2012
Dean Obeidallah says Mitt Romney passed a health care mandate identical to Obamacare's, but he wouldn't call it a tax.
Dean Obeidallah says Mitt Romney passed a health care mandate identical to Obamacare's, but he wouldn't call it a tax.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: Is Mitt Romney truly a man "without a core"? No.
  • Obeidallah: Romney has a distinct core -- not one of a politician, but one of a CEO
  • He says a CEO is not shackled by ideology, but by how well he can sell a product
  • Obeidallah: Romney the businessman modifies his messages to get the customers

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy

(CNN) -- "This is a man without a core, a man without substance, a man that will say anything to become president of the United States."

Rudy Giuliani uttered these harsh words when describing Mitt Romney eight months ago. But then, four months later, Giuliani endorsed Romney.

Is Giuliani correct? Is Romney truly a man "without a core"? The simple answer: No. Romney has a distinct core -- not that of a politician, but of a CEO.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

What do I mean? We have become accustomed in these highly partisan times to politicians who adhere rigidly to their ideological positions. They don't change their views to attract supporters. Rather, they want voters to agree with the positions they advocate.

In contrast, a CEO is not shackled by ideology. A CEO's success is measured by the bottom line, not by how many principles he or she sticks to.

To the CEO, if a product is not selling, you don't stick with it until the product destroys your business. Instead, you tweak it. You rebrand it. You try a new slogan or new packaging. And if people are still not buying it, like New Coke, you drop it. You regroup, come up with a new product and then start selling again.

Romney: Jobs report a 'kick in the gut'
Pres. Obama, Romney slams China
Romney, Obama's tax vs. penalty problem

Romney is first and foremost a businessman. In fact, Romney has repeatedly made this very point to us with statements like: "I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I only spent four years as a governor. I didn't inhale. I'm a business guy."

I'm not defending Romney's acrobatic flips on issues. In fact, if Romney loses this election, he would make a great circus performer. I can see the ads: "The Amazing Romney -- he can change positions in midair." At times, I truly wonder if Mitt realizes we have Google and can look up his record on issues.

But Romney's "evolution" on certain key issues does not technically constitute a "flip-flop," which is defined by Dictionary.com as, "A sudden or unexpected reversal as of direction, belief, attitude or policy."

Romney's changing views are neither sudden nor unexpected. Rather, they are astutely calculated by Romney the businessman to appeal to the customers he's targeting at that very moment. This is a man clearly driven by the adage: "The customer is always right."

For example, this week Romney declared that the individual mandate imposed by Obamacare is a tax. Yet when Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, he implemented an identical individual mandate but consistently denied it was a tax.

Romney has simply modified his "product line" to attract the most customers based on the current marketplace conditions. Even "Mad Men's" Don Draper would have to be in awe of Romney's business acumen.

This strategy is even more apparent when you contrast Romney's views from when he ran for office in Massachusetts with those he espoused when seeking the Republican presidential nomination. In Massachusetts, Romney fashioned a product that appealed to the left-leaning consumers who populate the state. But when seeking to sell his wares to the more conservative Republican primary market, he customized it accordingly.

For example, on abortion, Romney was unequivocally pro-choice in his run for the Senate in 1994 and for governor in 2002. In fact, during a 2002 gubernatorial debate, Romney stated, "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard."

But when Romney sought the Republican nomination, he tweaked his goods to appeal to these right-leaning buyers by saying, "I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade."

On gun control, Romney admitted during his 1994 Senate race that his views were, "... not going to make me the hero of the NRA." Indeed, as governor, Romney signed into law a ban on assault weapons, dubbing them "instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people."

Flash forward to 2012. During the Republican primaries, Romney again fine-tuned his merchandise to attract the more conservative gun owners. In April, he even addressed the NRA's national convention, explaining, "We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners."

Romney not only revamped his product line, he also repackaged himself. During his 1994 Senate campaign, Romney told Massachusetts voters, "I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush." But when running for the Republican presidential nomination, he shrewdly rebranded himself as a self-described "Reagan Republican."

For many, a CEO-style president could be a good fit. Romney's track record indicates he will likely be a pragmatic leader, not rigidly beholden to ideology.

But for others like myself, Romney's CEO core and ever evolving product line lead to doubt about every word he says.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT