Yet trustworthiness remains an abiding question about Romney. In a poll released on the eve of the convention, the Pew Research Center found that while impressions of Romney have improved since the primaries, “42 percent of the words volunteered by respondents are clearly negative, most commonly liar, arrogant, crook, out of touch, distrust and fake.” And the report continues: “Fewer (28 percent) offer words that are clearly positive in tone, such as honest, good, leadership, and capable.”
Two comments this week from his own team illustrate a contradiction. Capping a tender personal portrait of a dedicated family man, hardworking professional, and generous neighbor, Ann Romney declared: “You can trust Mitt.” Outside the convention hall, meanwhile, Romney pollster Neil Newhouse pushed back against media criticism of distortion and blatant dishonesty in the campaign’s messages by saying, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
Which is it? Romney repeated several of the most discredited claims of his campaign in his acceptance speech about Mr. Obama’s plans for Medicare and reforms to welfare. He accused Obama of divisiveness and partisan gridlock when, as veteran congressional watchers Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann have documented, his own party – and indeed running mate Paul Ryan – were willing to vote against measures they themselves co-sponsored rather than reach accord with the president. His disingenuous claims are numerous.
This is not to deny that Obama and the Democrats have stretched the truth and played politics. Rather, it raises valid questions about how Romney’s relationship with his own party would shape the way he might govern.