Romney avoids weighing in on Ohio union fight
October 25th, 2011
12:57 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney avoids weighing in on Ohio union fight

Terrace Park, Ohio (CNN) -Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stepped into the middle of the charged battle over organized labor in Ohio on Tuesday, but he avoided weighing in on the contentious legislation that would dramatically limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.

The former Massachusetts governor visited an Ohio Republican Party phone bank in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where GOP volunteers were contacting voters about two hot-button measures that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

One of them, Issue 2, would ratify Senate Bill 5 - the controversial legislation backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich that curbs collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Another measure, Issue 3, would amend the state constitution to forbid the state and federal government from imposing a mandate to buy health insurance.

Romney expressed generic support for Kasich's efforts to curtail union rights, but he would not say whether he supports or opposes the specific measures.

"I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues," Romney said, only after repeated questions from reporters. "Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party's efforts here."

Both topics are tricky for the Romney campaign.

He is no stranger to health insurance mandates, having passed one of his own in 2006 while governor of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the Republican-backed union legislation remains deeply unpopular in the state, which is all but certain to be a swing state once again in 2012.

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed that Ohio voters support the repeal of Senate Bill 5 by a 57-32 margin. And crucially, independent voters in Ohio favor repealing the legislation by a 52-36 margin.

It was no surprise, then, that the Romney campaign did not advertise the Ohio visit to reporters.

And Kasich, whose disapproval rating stands at 54% according to Quinnipiac, was not in attendance.

Romney arrived mid-morning with a traveling aide and shook hands with local Republicans before speaking to volunteers inside the building.

Though he was surrounded by brightly-colored signs urging Ohioans to vote yes on Issue 2 and Issue 3, Romney sidestepped both matters and instead delivered familiar broadsides against unions.

He attacked the National Labor Relations Board for holding up the construction of a Boeing facility in South Carolina and trashed union-backed "card check" legislation.

"There is a lot of spirit in this room, and I want to salute that spirit and the volunteerism that is gathered here to take back America," Romney said. "If I am fortunate enough to be the nominee, I intend to win Ohio with your help."

Rep. Jim Renacci, a freshman congressman from northeast Ohio, made the trip to Cincinnati and endorsed Romney at the event.

Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine, who is neutral in the presidential race, also spoke at the event.

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Filed under: 2012 • John Kasich • Mitt Romney • Ohio
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Bill

    You want to be President Mr. Romney? Meow, meow. Take a stand but you won't. You are afraid either way. If you support Senate Bill #5 then you will alienate the majority, who are against it. On the other hand, if you speak out against it then you lose support of the Koch brothers and all the tea baggers. So you do the spineless kitten thing, shy away from it. And you want to be president, hah!

    October 25, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. thomas

    And Kasich, whose disapproval rating stands at 54% according to Quinnipiac, was not in attendance.

    Romney arrived mid-morning with a traveling aide and shook hands with local Republicans before speaking to volunteers inside the building.


    October 25, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Jilli

    Hey Mitt – how do you stand upright without a spine?

    October 25, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Of course he's not going to weigh in. That would require that he actually TAKE A POSITION. Mitt must wait until the matter is settled before he decides which side he's on...

    October 25, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. stubob2517

    And BOOM the RINO loses the votes of thousands.....

    October 25, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens supports Kasich's union busting efforts but won't weigh in on it. Romberg has a spine of jello, and what do you bet, he will tell Ohioans he was in favor of repeal when the bill is overturned in November?

    October 25, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Nate Shelton

    There should be a correction. The volunteers were holding up signs in support of issue 2 as well as issue 3. The article said "against issue 2". Thanks

    October 25, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Woman In California

    As usual. Nothing new here.

    October 25, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    In the mind of Mittens, union busting bills are people too.

    October 25, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Obama/Biden 2012 -- Four more years of 9-10% unemployment, record foreclosures, record $1.3 TRILLION yearly deficits, runaway debt reaching $20 TRILLION

    Good job Romney. It is the people of Ohio that have to decide on whether they will remain solvent or go down the road to bankruptcy like California. The unions will not be happy until they bankrupt every last state in the country.

    October 25, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. WhereIsPalin

    Mitt of conviction

    October 25, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. GonzoinHouston

    You could say that Mitt is trying to have it both ways, as usual. On the other hand, maybe he has sense enough to see that the extremist republican legislation is deeply unpopular with voters. Whichever you choose, it's still more entertaining than anything on TV.

    October 25, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    There is no question, that labor unions, who once were more about protecting workers, have in modern times, become nothing but a force to increase the costs of business, and government, with unreasonable wage expectations, and unreasonable benefit expectations.

    Unions have now become a problem, rather than a force for good.

    October 25, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Grossly misleading. Mittens showed up at that call center and carefully chose his words of support for the GOP's actions in OH to wink wink dogwhistle to the GOP/Teatroll base that he supports their efforts to destroy the public unions. He's just as desperate as the rest of the GOP to see it happen and destroy a significant source of Dem organization, fundraising and messaging's all part of their plan to help counteract the damage to their own power base that is being created by naturally shifting demographics in the country. Mittens is just pretending not to ake a position because the legislation is likely to go down like the Hindenburg and he needs to try to maintain the APPEARANCE that he's a moderate for the general election.

    October 25, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. curious

    Mr. Willard Romney,how much money has the Bush tax cut for the welathy saved you, and how many jobs did that money create?

    October 25, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "with unreasonable wage expectations, and unreasonable benefit expectations."

    Really? Is that why average middle-class salaries nationwide remained stagnant for the past 3+ decades and have failed to compete with inflation such that the average middle-class salary now has less purchasing power than it did several eyars ago?

    October 25, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. callmecrazy

    This is why republicans are all RINO's. It is because the majority of the population don't agree with their core policies. Say one thing and do another.

    October 25, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    While youre all busy busting Mitts balls, why dont you also ask your own candidates how they stand on the union issue? Support the unions, which is liberal democrat land, or support stripping rights to balance the budget for the rest of the state? Gee, its not so easy is it?

    You losers need to get a grip on reality and learn to take responsibility for your actions. If your house is in foreclosure, if your house is under water, if your debt-income ratio is messed up, if your credit rating sucks.. whose fault is all of that?.. yours. Grow up, toughen up, and get on with your lives.. sheesh..

    October 25, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. Al-NY,NY

    Spineless jellyfish.....and to Rick and Obama/Biden.....tell that anti-union propaganda to the police and firefighters

    October 25, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Max

    Poor 'Mitt the flip flopper' he's simply scared of flip flopping on another crucial issue, however, keeping silent is not the best approach. So, Mitt what's your opinion? Do you have one?

    October 25, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Scott

    Of course he does... It's Mitt.

    October 25, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. thomas

    CNN , why not ask Mr.Romney the reasons for his five sons not volunteering for military service ?

    PLEASE , I want to see and hear his response !


    October 25, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "While youre all busy busting Mitts balls,"

    Mittens has balls?

    October 25, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |