October 29th, 2009
12:30 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney won't back either Republican or Conservative in NY 23 Race

Romney is not making an endorsement in the NY 23 race.'

Romney is not making an endorsement in the NY 23 race.'

(CNN) - Is Mitt Romney weighing in on the intra-Republican Party fight in race for New York's 23 Congressional District by refusing to make an endorsement?

That's the special election where the GOP nominee, Dede Scozzafava, is facing a challenge not only from Bill Owens, the Democrat's candidate, but also from Doug Hoffman, who's running on the conservative party line. Because of the split among Republicans, Owens has a good chance of taking back a district the Democrats haven't won in generations.

On Wednesday Romney was asked whether he'd make an endorsement in the New York 23 contest.

"I have chosen not to endorse the Republican candidate in New York's 23rd District," Romney told reporters while campaigning in Virginia for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. "That should speak a certain amount of volume. I can't endorse our candidate in that race."

Many top conservatives have weighed in on the race in the past few weeks, endorsing Hoffman, who jumped into the contest as a third party candidate after failing to gain the nod of Republican leaders in the district.

Among those backing Hoffman are possible 2012 GOP presidential contenders Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum. Both Romney and Mike Huckabee have refused to make an endorsement, while Newt Gingrich is supporting Scozzafava.

"Mitt Romney is a Republican and he tends to support the Republican candidate in races and when he can't because there are too many differences on the issues, he stays out of the race altogether and that's the course he's following in the New York special election. He doesn't plan to make any endorsement at all," Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tells CNN.

The election in the three-way race to fill a vacant congressional seat is 5 days away. The office opened up after nine-term Republican Rep. John McHugh stepped down after being confirmed as Secretary of the Army. The largely rural district spans 11 counties in northern New York.

Republicans have represented this area of the state since 1872. McHugh never won less than 60 percent of the vote in his nine election victories, but Barack Obama did edge out John McCain in the district in last year's presidential election.

Scozzafava won the nomination in a vote taken by the 11 GOP county chairman in the district, rather than through a traditional primary election. The local Republican leaders picked the state assemblywoman, who is also backed by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee, because they felt her moderate views would appeal to centrist Republicans, independents, and even some Democrats.

The move sparked a revolt among many conservatives, who are angry with what they call her liberal views on same-sex marriage and abortion.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Debbie

    Funny...Romney had no problem jumping into Virginia and backing an anti-women candidate.

    October 29, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Jim in San Mateo

    Apparently, Romney knows a land mine when he sees one and isn't stupid enough to step on it.

    October 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Who does Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly and Beck endorse? That's what really matters...

    October 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    No, Romney is setting himself up so that regardless of who wins, he can spin it that he supported the winner.

    All Romney cares about is somehow getting the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. He'll be blowing about in the wind plenty between now and then ....

    October 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    "That should speak a certain amount of volume."

    Huh? The guy can't even speak English! Sheesh – must be a requirement to be a Republican presidential contender these days ...

    October 29, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I'm surprised he's staying out of that one. I think that it is a smart move. If he picks the loser, it could hurt a run in 2012.

    October 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    Definitely smarter than Palin or Gingrich – prettier than both of them too. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Bring on the hair spray !!!

    October 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Romney can suck up and blow about all he wants – he'll never get the Republican presidential nomination because the fundamentalist religious "right" has taken over the GOP – and he's a Mormon.

    Google "evangelical" and "Mormon" and you'll see what I mean ...

    October 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Garrett

    Mitt would have made a great President, better than Barrak....too bad we didn't realize this before the election.

    October 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Mormons believe that a womans place is in the home...and pregnant...thats why he jumped to endorse a candidate with a similar philosophy in Virginia...

    October 29, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Glen Beck is king of the morons

    He must have his magic BVDs on too tight today.hahahaha

    October 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. notfooledtx

    As usual mitts as wishy-washy as ever – he apparently has no convictions. How does he stand upright without a spine?

    October 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. M. Ames, Syracuse

    Beck, et al support Hoffman, the ultra-conservative who doesn't even live in the district. He's from Lake Placid which is in the 20th District.

    I grew up in this district and it isn't just "generations" since a Democrat one. The way it has been redistricted, yes, but the core of this district–St. Lawrence County, etc. has not voted for a Democrat EVER. The area is 'bluing' slightly, voting for Hillary for Senate (twice) and voting for Obama.

    Dede is probably a better fit. What in God's name does Dick Armey, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin or that idiot Bachmann know about the region. At least two of them couldn't find it on a map. Armey said Hoffman's lack of knowledge on areas of concern throughout the region were simply "parochial." Duh....those are the kinds of things you Representatives deal with because they know the needs of their constituents.

    October 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    I swear he uses rubber cement in his hair...the fumes are what muddle his thoughts.

    October 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. AEK

    Way to take a stand Mr. Spineless! Not like you're negotiating with Iran or anything. Of course the neocons don't negotiate with anyone unless it's with a threat, either real or implied.

    October 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Aunt Bea and Opie

    We are starting to feel sorry for this guy,he doesnt have a clue.

    October 29, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. M. Ames, Syracuse

    I meant "won," not "one." Duh.

    October 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Rosebud

    Way to go, stay balanced up there on your mile high fence.

    October 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. demsrulz

    Who cares... The republican party is dead... You can hear their ignorant death howl from miles away...

    October 29, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Melissa

    Romney is a crazy nutbag and I wish he'd slink back under his rock and disappear.

    October 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. Steph

    Who cares who this guy endorses? Are we asking every unemployed person who they endorse now-a-days? Honestly, other than giving speeches, what does Romney do with all of his time?

    October 29, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. lasvegasrose

    Romney only supports MORMON candidates, haven't you all figured that out yet? We have, here in NV. He's just like Ensign another Mormon, they don't speak ill of each other. lol

    October 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Dieter Zerressen

    For a Republican not to support the Republican in the race says a lot: one, that Mitt is a weeney and two, that the Republicans are afraid of offending their conservative wing. Either way they lose in the long run.

    October 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Phat Elvis

    Of course he won't– he cant tell which way the political winds are blowing. You know mitt, only commits when there is a path to follow!

    October 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Joseph-Ohio

    Know this, Romney will only make moves that he feels benefit his ability to gain the Republican nomination in 2012. In the end he will be forced to support some other "Republican Wack Job" as the Presidential hopeful. I mean come on Palin has more national appeal than this guy and that is not saying much.

    October 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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