Washington (CNN) - As he continues to fend of questions about his core convictions, Mitt Romney aggressively defended his conservative credentials Friday at a major gathering of right-leaning activists in Washington.
Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference, Romney described his record in Massachusetts in almost startling terms, calling himself "a severely conservative Republican governor" who stood firmly with social conservatives in the fight against same-sex marriage and abortion.
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Political Notebook: CNN's Peter Hamby and Bob Costantini talk about Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum's speeches to the Conservative Political Action Conference. Republican voters just can't settle.
Romney said that as governor, he fiercely opposed same-sex marriage, fought for abstinence education in public schools and vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for women to obtain abortions.
His remarks were met with a warm reception from the CPAC crowd, but not as friendly as the applause that greeted his surging rival Rick Santorum just hours earlier.
Though he walked the crowd through his record in Massachusetts, he made no mention of the health care reform law that he signed in 2006, which later became a model for the federal health care law that he is now promising to repeal.
Romney largely framed his conservatism in comfortable terms, through the prism of his stable family life and experience in the private sector.
"My path to conservatism came from my family, my faith, and my life's work," Romney said. "My 42-year marriage to my wife, Ann, the life we've built with our five sons, and the faith that sustains us – these conservative constants have shaped my life."
He won a standing ovation for defending his successful business record, which has come under attack from his Republican rivals at various points in the presidential race.
"I started new businesses and turned around broken ones, and I am not ashamed to say that I was very successful at it," he said. "I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism."
He referred to his GOP opponents in only the vaguest terms, questioning how the beltway veterans like Santorum or Newt Gingrich could enact "serious change and real reform" in Washington.
Romney a true fiscal conservative.
Five sons who avoided military service !
Poor Mitt Romney, he is having to sale his soul to get the republican nomination to only lose to Obama in the General election. He is once again proving that he will say and do anything to advance himself, it must be awfully hard being Mitt Romney these days!
With all the crazy things he says and being totally out of touch with real Americans – oh yea – he's a conservative all right.
I heard part of this speech and loved it when he said he wasn't one of the insiders who say they hate Washington so much they never leave. My first thought – you haven't been in Washington only because you lost a Senate race to Ted Kennedy and the GOP nomination in 08 to John McCain. So, Mitt, your outsider status sure hasn't been for a lack of trying to be an insider on your part – you just kept losing.
The author of this article did NOT see CPAC. Romney got MULTIPLE standing ovations and huge rounds of applause MANY times. Santorum's speech was dry and drew little applause as he went on to attack Romney instead of promoting his own ideas.
Santorum's going to get looked at under the microscope that's been over Romney for the past 5 years...it won't be pretty. Conservatives, starting today with that incredible speech, will REMEMBER and REALIZE that Romney's their conservative candidate for 2012.
Best of luck Mittens. You're toast.
Mittens, its time to turn in your guns, and go back home. You need to do the manly thing, admit defeat, and gear up for 2016.
Flipper the Elitist Robot has no "record" other than a record of looking out for himself, by hook or by crook, and lying to get his way. In other words, Mittens is a greedy psychopath who'll do or say anything.
Good to see that CPAC gave him a warm reception, in that they think he is a cultist.
For realz I'm super conservative. Pathetic.
Is there anything more pathetic than having to pander on bended knee to the Social/Religious Conservative Brownshirt Bible Crazies?
No one takes the Social/Religious Conservative Brownshirt Bible Crazies seriously…except only the Social/Religious Conservative Brownshirt Bible Crazies.
Headline should read "Romney invents his 'severely' conservative record." The main way in which he has been conservative is his conscience-free, ferengi-like history as a corporate raider. He is no social conservative, just a financial sociopath.
I MUST be ALL things to ALL people. Right Willard?
Of course he didn't – FACTS must not be known.
Those "conservative constants" are they the mansions YOU built off the backs of firing people and by faith do you mean your Mormon cult which teaches superiority?
So successful that you hide your tax returns (something the public has a RIGHT to know about) and your money off shore but yell out loud that you love America – that conservatism?
My God this man has NO shame. How can anyone take him seriously?
This is pathetic Romney has go in front annoyed conservative try to prove himself as true conservatives
which conservative record? 3 yrs ago? 10 yrs ago? as governor? or as a business man? the Olympics? which Mitt?
HAHAHAHA! – LIAR!!! Robot Romney is spewing lies again. Please stop talking!!
Oh and – OBAMA 2012 – Obama will have sparks coming out of that Robot, if he's the GOP's choice.
@Woman in California – I Love All of Your Posts ! I Agree w/ You !!
Thanks Larry in Houston.
Romney is a true conservative as he should be. The base in which this country was founded is slowly fading. It has been trough the years, but with the ideas that president Obama is coming up with, that is going to fade rapidly. The first few years Obama learned the Federal Government's way, the next four years if he is elected are going to be the worst of his administration. I am Latino and I understand that people need to be fair. Fair has a different meaning to liberals and democrats, not a real fair. So stupid.
Is anyone playing the violin?
What is the meanign of "conservative?" This word has been so over-used by the Republicans and their far right-wing brethern, the Tea Patsies, to the point where is has little or no meaning.
1. Romney says he is "conservative" because he has been married to his wife for 42 years. And? I have been married to mine for 30, my parents were married for 55 when my mother passed, and my in-laws were married for 45 when my father-in-law passed. My in-laws, my wife, and I are/were staunch liberals. My parents are/were center Dems. This is neither "conservative" nor liberal.
2. Romney claims he is a "conservative" because he raised five sons. And? My parents raised three children, my in-laws raised two, and my wife and I raised two. This is neither "conservative" nor liberal.
3. Romney says his faith sustains him. And? My (non-Mormon, Christian) faith sustains me. This is neither "conservative" nor liberal.
Romney needs some work here.
Romney will make one excellent President! Can't wait for November to come.
"Romney is a true conservative as he should be."
What is your definition of "true conservative." What is your definition of "fair." You challenge the definitions others use so the burden is on you to define the terms and show us why your definition is correct.
Now he is "severely conservative." Proving once again that he will say ANYTHING to win votes. I want to hear him weasel out of this statement when he's wooing middle-of-the-road "independents" in the general election.
Fair 5=5 2=2 15% = 15% 0%=0%
Conservative values are many, one being following the law even when no one is watching you.