Mitt Romney Should Have Run as a Democrat

Romney could've have saved himself, the Republican Party, not to mention the country, a whole heckuva lot of trouble.

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Jonathan Chait puts a sympathetic spin on former Gov. Mitt Romney's tenuous relationship with the truth:

[I]f Romney really couldn't stand to be dishonest, he had options. He could have just decided the ideological dissonance required to run as a Republican in Massachusetts, or as that Massachusetts Republican in a national Republican primary, was more than he could bear. But there's no reason to believe that Romney is especially dishonest in his core—that he has any special propensity to lie to his friends or neighbors or clients. He wanted a political career, and once he made that decision, he had only two choices: massive dishonesty or certain defeat.

I've thought about this scenario before, but it bears repeating. There was a third option open to Mitt Romney: He could've entered national politics as a business-oriented, socially moderate Democrat in the mold of Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. Let's call it the Third Way.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

The Third Way would've allowed Romney to overcome the root cause of his current political troubles, which

Byron York identified

in the

Washington Examiner


Mitt Romney was born and raised in Michigan and has ties to Utah. Yet he chose to make his career, both in business and politics, in Massachusetts. Nearly every political problem Romney has today, at least those involving his policy positions, stems from that one decision. ... To win election as a Republican in Massachusetts, and then to govern effectively, Romney had to align himself with the left side of the GOP. And to do that, he adopted positions that haunt him still.

If he had adopted the Third Way when he chose not to run for re-election in Massachusetts, Romney could've switched parties. He could've justified this decision by saying the Republican Party had become too extreme, too outside the mainstream. He could've said he was

honoring the legacy of his father

. The national media would've showered him with praise and positive coverage.

[ Read the U.S. News debate: Can Mitt Romney Close the Deal With Conservatives?]

Of course, running as a Democrat in 2008 would've put Romney on a collision course with Sen. Hillary Clinton and a certain junior senator from Illinois. I get why he chose the path he did.

Nevertheless, I can't help but conclude that Romney could've have saved himself, the Republican Party, not to mention the country, a whole heckuva lot of trouble if he had chosen to run for president in a manner that allowed him to essentially be himself.