The awkward elements of Mitt Romney’s speech at CPAC Friday began even before the GOP frontrunner opened his mouth.
Like all the high-profile speakers before him, Romney delivered his address from the CPAC main stage at a Marriot hotel in Washington, DC. That means he stood behind a pair of teleprompters and in front of a pair of fake Grecian columns.
Just the other night, when he was giving his address amid the defeats in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, Romney took a shot at the man he’s trying to oust from the White House for - well - using teleprompters and standing in front of fake columns. Here’s part of the transcript from Romney’s Colorado speech on February 7):
Three years ago, Barack Obama came to Colorado to accept his Party’s nomination. He rented out a huge stadium. He hauled in some Styrofoam Greek columns and two giant screens to set the mood. On that big stage in Denver, he made some even bigger promises.
At either side of Romney while he spoke at CPAC? Two giant screens. Of course, all the other speakers had appeared with the same stagecraft, but they hadn’t just recently attacked President Obama for using that exact set-up.
Romney’s speech at CPAC had its fair share of eyebrow-raising moments beyond the scenery. Still locked in brutal battle with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Romney cast his time as governor of Massachusetts — when he was often seen reaching across the aisle to Democrats in a dark blue state — as “severely conservative.”
That’s not exactly the kind of general election messaging observers expected from Romney, most of whom have predicted he’ll use his gubernatorial record as a way to pivot back from the primary into middle ground material that’s more friendly to a general electorate.
Moreover, Romney touted himself as the guy who prevented Massachusetts “from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.” That was part of a long section about opposing the calls to legalize gay marriage and standing up for the Defense of Marriage Act. Romney, who made a big deal in January about how he opposed discrimination against homosexuals, decided instead to focus his CPAC speech on how he helped defend the legality of adoption agencies discriminating against would-be gay parents.
“I defended the Catholic Church’s right to serve their community in ways that were consistent with their conscience through adoption programs that placed children in a home with a mom and a dad,” Romney said.
So, in summary, if you’re at CPAC, Romney’s wants you to think he governed Massachusetts the way Rick Perry governs Texas. It’s doubtful he’ll be singing the same tune about his time in Boston should he win the nomination, despite how awkward the shift may be.