With polls showing him either tied with or behind Rick Santorum nationally, even in his home state of Michigan, Mitt Romney joined the set of Fox and Friends Tuesday to shore up his conservative bona fides.
Romney said he planned to “spend quite a few days” between now and the Feb. 28 primary in Michigan talking about “my roots…and what it takes to get the state working again.”
He also responded to criticism from Sarah Palin, who said over the weekend that she’s not “convinced” of his conservatism, a theme she continued during television appearances on Wednesday. “I’m not sure what she’s referring to,” Romney said. “I’m pro-life, pro traditional marriage, I believe in the second amendment, as governor I balanced the budget every year I was in office. Cut taxes 19 times.”
Responding to an assertion that he has become more conservative during the Republican primary to attract voters, Romney said: “Well, I think living life makes you more conservative. And if you’ve been in the business world, you can’t help but be conservative, because if you don’t balance your budget in business, you go out of business.”
Romney also said he was more interested in talking about economics than cultural and social issues. “I know some people want to talk about other issues, but frankly the issue that is beneath much of what’s happening in this country is the need to get our economy going again, to get people with rising incomes, gas prices lower, more people going back to work,” he said.
At one point, Romney was shown an ad Santorum is running now in Michigan, called “Rombo” that shows a Romney look-a-like firing a gun that shoots mud at a cardboard cutout of Santorum. “Romney’s negative attack machine is back on full throttle. He’s firing his mud at Rick Santorum,” a narrator intones. The ad also mentions “Romneycare” and Romney’s earlier support for cap-and-trade.
Romney laughed as the ad was being shown, and then dismissed it, saying “That’s the nature of politics, which is that you always accuse the other guy of what you've done yourself. My campaign hasn't run any negative ads against Rick Santorum. His campaign ran attack ads against me in South Carolina and his PAC did so in Missouri.”
However, Romney didn’t rule out going negative on Santorum: “I’m not saying I won’t go after the guy, but he’s been going after me.”