Year in review: Mitt Romney

This post is the fifth in a series looking back at the ups and downs of 2007.

Mitt Romney started off the year with a bang: On Jan. 8, 2007, he held a "National Call Day" and gathered 400 friends and supporters at a high-tech call center at the Boston Convention Center to raise $6.5 million. It was a show of fundraising strength designed to make people take notice of the former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate who at the time lacked the name recognition of probable rivals Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

From the outset, Romney's strategy was traditional: Do well in Iowa and New Hampshire and build momentum from there. He was the first major candidate to buy television time in New Hampshire and beyond, and here he had the airwaves to himself for several months. He's spent more time in New Hampshire than any other candidate -- 48 days since November 2004, according to George Washington University's "Democracy in Action" website.

Romney, who made his fortune as a venture capitalist who founded Bain Capital and who also led the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, has touted himself as an accomplished turnaround artist with the skills to deal with problems like illegal immigration, health care, education and the threat of terrorism. He has also frequently campaigned with his wife and five sons and sent mailers to voters plastered with family photos. On the stump, he says his "bully example" will help family values -- a not-so-subtle contrast with many of his rivals who have been divorced, Giuliani twice.

On issues, Romney has touted tough enforcement for illegal immigrants, vowing not to grant amnesty, and worked to contrast himself with McCain, a major Republican backer of the compromise immigration bill that failed in Congress last spring. That bill included a path to citizenship for the more than 12 million immigrants believed to be in the country illegally. But McCain's campaign has countered by noting that as recently as 2006, Romney said it would not be feasible to round up and deport such immigrants and argued instead that a path to legalization should be opened to them. This month, Romney won the endorsement of former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, who made his name advocating a wall on the border with Mexico.

Romney has pointed to the universal health care plan passed in Massachusetts on his watch as evidence of his ability to do that which others have found too hard -- but at the same time, he's avoided discussing some components of the plan, like the government mandate, that are anathema to conservatives.

Opponents counter Romney's "turnaround" tag with one of their own -- they've dubbed him a "flip-flopper," noting changes in his stances on gay rights, abortion, immigration, gun rights and others. The Associated Press recently said Romney had a "candor gap," pointing to some statements Romney's had to retract: saying he's a lifelong hunter, that he won the endorsement of the NRA in 2002 and that he saw his dad march with Martin Luther King Jr.

Money has continued to be a strong suit for the Romney campaign, though he has increasingly dipped into his own resources. The wealthiest of the presidential candidates, with a personal fortune in the hundreds of millions, Romney has donated at least $17 million to his own campaign.

The Monitor's coverage of Romney's meeting with the editorial board is here. Audio links here.

- Lauren R. Dorgan
(Caricature by Mike Marland)