"If you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy," Mitt Romney said on Meet the Press in 2007 during his first presidential campaign. "I learn from experience." The former Massachusetts governor, who once called himself "progressive" but now considers himself "severely conservative," might have found some of his current positions unrecognizable 10 years ago, but here's where the presumed Republican presidential nominee stands today.
Romney believes that the government should let foreclosures play out in order for the housing market to reboot. "Don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2011 on the housing crisis. "Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up."
He has dodged racial issues lately, but in 2008 the Washington Post asked Romney about affirmative action. "I do not support quotas in hiring, government contracting, school admissions or the like," he said. "I do support encouraging inclusiveness and diversity, and I encourage the disclosure of the numbers of women and minorities in top positions of companies and government — not to impose a quota, but to shine light on the situation."
At a campaign stop last December, Romney endorsed voter-ID laws as necessary because "we don't want people voting multiple times." He also criticized the Justice Department for investigating some laws for their racially disparate effect, arguing that the controversial laws are no big deal because most Americans already have government-issued photo ID.
A follower of Reaganomics — particularly the idea that cutting taxes for businesses and the wealthy benefits the poor by improving the economy as a whole — Romney has a tax plan that extends all of the Bush tax cuts, slashes corporate taxes and eliminates estate taxes. "Well, it's pretty straightforward," Romney said of his plan in April. "You want to make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for innovators and for job creators."
In the name of fiscal responsibility, Romney advocates making severe cuts to the federal budget. "We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, 'What are the things we're doing that we don't have to do?' " he said in a 2011 GOP primary debate. Romney has endorsed the Paul Ryan budget, which makes deep cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, Pell Grants, Head Start, Social Services Block Grants and job training, among other federal programs, to help trim the deficit.
Holding the view that unemployment benefits discourage people from finding work, Romney has suggested replacing the current system with individual unemployment savings accounts that employees would draw from if they lose their jobs. "Let's reform the system, make the system work better by giving people responsibility for their own employment opportunities and having that account, rather than doling out year after year more money from an unemployment system," he said in a 2011 debate.
He hasn't elaborated on it much this election cycle, but in April Romney referenced his support for school vouchers and charter schools. "We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the schools of their choice," he said in a speech. It's an area where he may gain traction with African-American voters, a majority of whom support school vouchers offering government money to some low-income parents to offset the costs of private school.
When a Democratic strategist said that Romney's wife hadn't worked a day in her life, he argued that all moms are working moms. Mothers on welfare, however, should get outside jobs or lose their benefits. "Even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work," Romney said in January, explaining that as governor he increased day care funding to help. "I want the individuals to have the dignity of work."
Romney says that his first act as president would be to sign an executive order rolling back the Affordable Care Act by allowing states to opt out. "Obamacare substitutes government intrusiveness for the dynamics of individual responsibility … and for the dynamics of a free market," he said in March. His replacement plan includes restructuring Medicaid as state-administered block grants and giving individuals the tax break that companies get when they buy insurance for their employees.
Romney believes that life starts at conception and would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned to let states decide the legality of abortion. While he previously supported a constitutional amendment establishing legal personhood for all unborn children, last year he backtracked on that position. Now he says that matters of legal personhood should also be left up to the states.
To tackle the national debt, Romney wrote that he will "eliminate Title X family-planning programs benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood," which mostly provide birth control and health screenings. Denouncing Obama's policy ensuring that women at religiously affiliated companies have access to contraception, Romney also supports the Blunt amendment to allow all secular employers to deny coverage of any medical treatment or services to which they object for any moral reason.
Romney has stated that U.S. troops should start leaving Afghanistan only when generals on the ground say so, as opposed to the commander in chief directing the generals. "And those generals recommended to President Obama that we should not start drawing our troops down until after the fighting season in 2012," Romney explained last summer in a Republican primary debate. "He took a political decision to draw them down faster than that. That is wrong."
At a New Hampshire diner last summer, Romney told voters that America should continue its war on drugs in part through youth education. "We've got to not only continue our war on drugs from a police standpoint, but also to market again to our young people about the perils of drugs," he said. Romney also opposes legalizing marijuana for medical use, calling it an "entry drug" used to hook children.
Opposed to gay marriage, Romney believes that marriage should be decided on the federal level. "For me and for many others, opposition to same-sex marriage stems from the strong conviction that the ideal setting in which to raise a child is in a home with both a mother and a father," he wrote in his 2010 book, No Apology. To that end, he wants a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
While Romney believes that climate change is occurring, he says that the jury is still out on what's causing it. Therefore, he opposes regulating carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists have linked to climate change. "I think we may have made a mistake in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions," he said at a New Hampshire town hall last summer. "And I don't think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies."
Romney opposes amnesty for undocumented immigrants. He proposes a new system of identification cards for people who enter the country legally, which employers would have to inspect under threat of criminal prosecution. "If you do that, people who come here illegally won't be able to find work," Romney said in a January CNN debate. "Over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport." Romney also opposes the DREAM Act, seeing it as a "handout."
Like President Obama, Romney believes that the government should invest in research and development, particularly when it comes to alternative-energy sources such as biodiesel, nuclear power, ethanol and liquid coal. But in his book No Apology, he also cautions, "Government should not, however, attempt to pick winning ideas or technologies in which it would invest funds for development and commercialization."