As the presidential primaries for 2008 slowly approach, we’re seeing the expected heavy swing to the right by several on the Republican side. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, though, seems to have taken things a step further by attempting to buy the support of right-wing organizations:
In the months before announcing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts contributed tens of thousands of dollars of his personal fortune to several conservative groups in a position to influence his image on the right.
Last December, a foundation controlled by Mr. Romney made contributions of $10,000 to $15,000 to each of three Massachusetts organizations associated with major national conservative groups: the antiabortion Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Massachusetts Citizens for Lower Taxation and the Christian conservative Massachusetts Family Institute.
Mr. Romney and a group of his supporters also contributed a total of about $10,000 to a nonprofit group affiliated with National Review. Over the past two years, he contributed $35,000 to the Federalist Society, an influential network of conservative lawyers. And in December 2005, he contributed $25,000 to the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative research organization.
The recipients of Mr. Romney’s donations said the money had no influence on them. But some of the groups, notably Citizens for Life and the Family Institute, have turned supportive of Mr. Romney after criticizing him in the past.
Romney has a bit of an uphill battle here, as he was once regarded as a moderate Republican and not a particularly close ally of the Religious Right. While this at first enabled him to be elected governor of a generally blue state, he found himself increasingly out of step with his electorate, and he has since renounced almost any remotely moderate stance he had previously taken (even fighting against funding embryonic stem cell research in the later years of his governorship). The opening of the 2008 race has seen him and other “moderates” pander heavily to the religious right in hopes of gaining the conservative extremist support that has become prerequisite for winning a Republican primary.
Although the primaries are still far away and the general election even further, when the Republican and Democratic nominees finally go head to head in 2008 let us not forget the extreme positions taken and fringe organizations courted by the Republican nominee, especially in regards to how these may adversely affect his support for scientific progress if president.