It hasn’t been a good week for Republicans looking for consistency from their presidential candidates.
The latest offenders are Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, his closest rival in fundraising and organization in the contest for the GOP nomination.
Perry backpedaled on Wednesday from doubts he expressed earlier this week about President Obama’s birthplace, telling a Florida television interviewer he was certain that Obama had been born in the United States. After telling a CNBC news interviewer on Tuesday that the issue of Obama’s birth is “a good issue to keep alive,” Perry said in an interview due to air on Sunday on Tampa television station Bay News 9 that he thought the matter is a dead issue, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
The Texas governor's initial comments included a nod to New York real-estate magnate Donald Trump, whose pursuit of the president’s birth certificate fed much of the media hoopla around Trump’s brief presidential campaign. “Donald’s got to have some fun,” Perry said at the time.
Perry’s retreat comes after several days of criticism from within his own party, notably from former White House strategist Karl Rove, with whom Perry has long shared a testy relationship. “You associate yourself with a nutty view like that and you damage yourself,” Rove said on Fox News, saying Perry could “marginalize” himself by associating with the “nutty fringe group” still questioning Obama’s origins.
Perry’s backtracking came on the same day that Romney apologized for declining to publicly support an Ohio law limiting collective-bargaining rights for public workers during an Ohio campaign stop on Tuesday. Today in Virginia, the former Massachusetts governor said he wanted to address “confusion” about whether he supports Republican Gov. John Kasich’s efforts to stop a repeal campaign led by labor unions. At today’s campaign appearance in Fairfax, outside of Washington, Romney said he supports Kasich “110 percent.”
Even the straight-talking Herman Cain, the candidate who used to run the Godfather’s Pizza chain, has been confronting the flip-flop problem. He has been accused of taking two different positions on abortion rights, a major no-no for a Republican candidate for president.
In an interview with CNN last week, Cain said that he believed life begins at conception, but later added that it was “not the government’s role” to decide whether a woman who has been raped should have an abortion. He was upbraided by anti-abortion rights groups and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a GOP rival for the nomination.
“You can’t have all of these flip-flops in our nominee, one after another,” Bachmann said about Cain on Fox News Sunday over the weekend. “It’s making the voters’ heads spin. I think it’s giving people pause and they’re asking real questions about what does he believe truly and how would he govern as president of the United States.”