Romney Visits Phone Bank, Refuses to Endorse Volunteers' Cause

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Conservatives are hammering the former Massachusetts governor for declining to back Ohio's new restrictions on public-employee unions

Romney in Ohio - AP Photo:Al Behrman - banner.jpg

Tell me if you've heard this one. Mitt Romney walks into an Ohio phone bank then shoots himself in the face.

Campaigning out in Ohio today, Mitt Romney stopped by a phone bank that was trying to annoy Ohioans into supporting their governor's reform of Ohio's public sector unions.

In March, Governor Jon Kasich signed into law reforms that:

1) Required government workers to pay 10% of their wages toward state pensions.

2) Banned public-employee unions from bargaining over health insurance.

3) Instituted merit pay over seniority pay.

4) Made public-employee striking illegal and eliminated binding arbitration.

5) Made union dues voluntary.

Kaisch declared that he saved the state $1.3 billion. And naturally liberals organized a ballot initiative to repeal this reform.

Romney strolled into midst of hardworking activists trying to save their reforms from repeal and resolutely refused to endorse Kaisch's reforms.

According to CNN's Peter Hamby, Romney was asked for his opinion of the reforms. Hamby writes:

"I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues," Romney said, only after repeated questions from reporters. "Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party's efforts here."

The conservative reaction has been less than enthusiastic.

Conn Carrol writing at The Washington Examiner:

If Romney can't endorse this common sense reform at the state level, why should conservatives believe he will fight against government unions at the federal level.

Erick Erickson (one of the 10 People GOP Candidates Must Suck Up To) brings up pudding:

Playing it too safe is finally biting Romney in the rear end. He's refused to call social security a ponzi scheme. He's refused to offer bold economic reform plans. He's refused to address significant changes in entitlement reforms. His whole campaign has centered around tapioca.

Brendan Steinhauser, the director of Federal and State Campaigns for Freedomworks tells Business Insider in an email:

He's not being helpful in Ohio, where we are leading the fight for Kasich's reforms and an effort to push back against ObamaCare. It just shows why he is struggling with conservatives right now.

This is Romney's second flap with the right today. Earlier the Club for Growth's Chris Chocola hit Romney for not getting behind the flat tax. I continue to be disappointed that Governor Romney has yet to embrace a flat or fair tax," he said.

Simply put. Conservatives don't trust Mitt Romney. They won't trust him as their nominee. And they won't cut him slack if he becomes president. He is the second coming of George H. W. Bush.

Updated 3:24: And this being Romney there is a flip-flop involved. Politico's Jonathan Martin points to a Romney Facebook message from June:

My friends in Ohio are fighting to defend crucial reforms that the state has put in place to limit the power of union bosses and keep taxes low. I stand with John R. Kasich and Ohio's leaders as they take on this important fight to get control of government spending. Please visit www.BetterOhio.org for more information.

Image credit: Al Behrman/AP

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Michael Brendan Dougherty is politics editor at Business Insider.

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