As the Obama campaign seeks to make an issue of Romney's term in the Massachusetts state house, locals say he was neither a disaster nor a breakout success.
The Obama campaign's attempt to make an issue of Mitt Romney's governorship quickly descended into spectacle Thursday.
As the president's chief strategist, David Axelrod, made his case in front of the state house in Boston, he was nearly drowned out by pro-Romney hecklers chanting slogans. From the sidelines, a clean-cut young man in a blue tie blew soap bubbles. "You can't handle the truth!" Axelrod was reduced to yelling, as he leaned across the podium and strained to hear a reporter's question.
Axelrod and the gaggle of sympathetic local officials behind him argued that Romney sold Massachusetts voters the same bill of goods he's peddling now -- that his private-sector expertise would make him an ideal chief executive of the state. But his record in office, Axelrod claimed, was "alarmingly weak."
Was Romney actually a terrible governor of Massachusetts, or was this all politics? Naturally, the reality is not as simple as either side would like to claim.
Romney can't be accused of leaving the state in a shambles, local experts say, and his tenure was by no means a disaster. He left the state with one towering accomplishment -- universal health care, an achievement neither Romney nor Obama likes to mention now. But Romney fell short of his campaign pledge to change the state's political culture, stymied by a combination of entrenched interests and his own failure to cultivate relationships. And his naked positioning for national office in the latter part of his one term left a bad taste in many mouths.