Excerpts from Game Change, John Heilemann and Maark Halperin, 2010:
The candidates lined up at the urinals, Giuliani next to McCain next to Huckabee, the rest all in a row. The debate was soon to start, so they were taking care of business -- and laughing merrily at the one guy who wasn't there. Poking fun at him, mocking him, agreeing about how much they disliked him. Then Willard Mitt Romney walked into the bathroom and overheard them, bringing on a crashing silence.
Romney was the guy on whom much of the smart Beltway money had been betting from the start. His resume was impressive . . . .
Romney was running a textbook Republican campaign. He had hired a squad of A-list consultants, pollsters, and media wizards. He'd raised more money than anyone in the field and had millions of his own to draw on. He'd courted the GOP establishment; worked to neutralize the most vocal potential sources of opposition; racked up oodles of endorsements; and carefully tailored his policy positions to appeal to social, economic, and national security conservatives, the three legs of the Republican stool.
But Romney's efforts to get right with the right landed him in trouble. For most of his life, he had been a middle-of-the-road, pro-business, pragmatist, unequivocally pro-choice, moderate on tax cuts and immigration. Running against Ted Kennedy for the Senate in 1994, he pledged that he'd do more for gay rights than his opponent, and declared, "I don't line up with the NRA" on gun control. By 2008, Romney had reversed himself on all of this, which quickly gave rise to charges of hypocrisy and opportunism. Even before he announced his candidacy, a YouTube video [see below] began making the rounds that captured him firmly stating his liberalish social views, comically juxtaposing them with his newly adopted arch-conservative stances. From then on, the flip-flopper label was firmly affixed to Mitt's forehead.
Unlike Giuliani, Romney had no reticence about slashing at his rivals. But the perception of him as a man without convictions made him a less-than-effective delivery system for policy contrasts. The combination of the vitriol of his attacks and his corelessness explained the antipathy the other candidates had toward him. McCain routinely called Romney an "asshole" and a "fucking phony." Giuliani opined, "That guy will say anything." Huckabee complained, "I don't think Romney has a soul." [emphasis mine]A few paragraphs later, the authors describe Romney's inability to see himself as others do. His reaction to the YouTube video highlighting his flip-flopping was simply, "Boy look how young I was back then."
I'm sure somewhere in this book I read where McCain, I think, said Romney was vicious but I can't find the exact quote as the edition I have doesn't have an index. Maybe I'm just projecting.
But politicians aren't anything if not fickle when it comes to their friends and enemies. A mere four years later on January 12, 2012 John McCain was the first to endorse the "asshole" and "fucking phony" (while mistakenly endorsing Obama for a second term). Giuliani followed suit and endorsed the "man who will say anything" in April and Huckabee jumped into bed with the man without a soul the next month.
Too bad they didn't stick to their original assessments because they were right on target in 2008. Ironically, the only one who has not changed his game is Mitt Romney, a pandering, lying, flip-flopping sociopath who, as we have seen this past week, is also a traitor to his country.
I'm not positive this is the same YouTube video the authors refer to in the book. If not, it's close enough.