FACT CHECK: Romney Was Not Bipartisan In MA

While Mitt Romney said that he worked effectively across the aisle as the governor of Massachusetts, the facts tell a different story. As Governor, Romney was more interested in running for President and picking fights than building governing coalitions. His doors were closed to lawmakers and Massachusetts legislators have panned his tenure as Governor.

Here are the facts:

MASSACHUSETTS LEADERSHIP DISPUTE CLAIMS THAT ROMNEY WORKED WITH THEM SAYING TO CALL ROMNEY “DISENGAGED WOULD BE CHARITABLE”

Former Massachusetts Senate President Tom Birmingham: “To Call [Romney] Disengaged Would Be Charitable.” “’He made no effort to get acquainted with lawmakers,’ said Tom Birmingham, a former state Senate president who left just before Romney took office. ‘To call him disengaged would be charitable.’" [Associated Press, 8/2/12]

Former Massachusetts House Speaker Tom Finneran: “Initially His Sense Was, `I Have Been Elected Governor, I Am The CEO Here And You Guys Are The Board Of Directors And You Monitor The Implementation Of What I Say.'" “’Initially his sense was, “I have been elected governor, I am the CEO here and you guys are the board of directors and you monitor the implementation of what I say,” Finneran said. ‘That ruffled the feathers of legislators who see themselves as an equal branch (of government).’ Finneran said that, while he grew to respect Romney, ‘you have to work to have a conversation with him.’" [Associated Press, 8/2/12]

  • After “Romney Delivered A Powerpoint Presentation Brimming With Numbers And Charts On His Plan For Fixing The Budget,” Former House Speaker Tom Finneran Said “Romney Was Issuing Marching Orders Not Seeking Their Advice.” “Former House Speaker Tom Finneran, a Democrat, recalled being "summoned" along with fellow legislative leaders by Romney for a meeting on the state's fiscal crisis early in Romney's term. Romney delivered a PowerPoint presentation brimming with numbers and charts on his plan for fixing the budget. Finneran said it quickly became apparent that Romney was issuing marching orders, not seeking their advice.” [Associated Press, 8/2/12]

Associated Press: “Some Democratic Lawmakers Accused Romney Of Being Aloof, Unapproachable And Not Much Interested In Working With Them” And His “Legislative Agenda On Big Issues Like Transportation And Higher Education Fizzled As A Result.” “Some Democratic lawmakers accused Romney of being aloof, unapproachable and not much interested in working with them to build the kind of friendships and alliances that are needed to help pass legislation. They say Romney's legislative agenda on big issues like transportation and higher education fizzled as a result.” [Associated Press, 8/2/12]

ROMNEY WAS MORE INTERESTED IN PICKING FIGHTS THAN BUILDING COALITIONS

As Governor, Romney Had A Style Marked By “Disinterest In Bipartisan Collaboration.” “Romney's ability to wield the bully pulpit circumventing inflexible lawmakers and appealing directly to the public was a hallmark of his tenure, and it hints at the CEO style of leadership that he might bring to the White House. The flip side of that style is Romney's relative disinterest in bipartisan collaboration, a practice that's already rare in Washington.” [National Journal, 11/10/11]

As Governor, Romney “Furnished The Massachusetts Press Corps, Always Looking For Conflict, With A Running Narrative Of Combat” Against Democratic Legislators – A Departure From His GOP Predecessors. “Instead of trying to cut deals with legislators, Romney positioned himself as the anti-Beacon-Hill governor, capitalizing on public mistrust of what his campaign team had framed as the Democratic ‘gang.’ He furnished the Massachusetts press corps, always looking for conflict, with a running narrative of combat. That was a departure from the collegiality of Romney's GOP predecessors. With Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, and then Swift, Democratic legislators were accustomed to chief executives who either rose along similar career paths, as did Cellucci and Swift, or showed Brahmin bemusement at their roguish ways, as did Weld.” [National Journal, 11/10/11]

MetroWest Daily News Editorial: Romney Failed To Establish Strong Working Relationship With Legislative Leaders And Seemed More Interested In “Picking The Right Fights Than In Building Coalitions To Solve Problems.”  “Gov. Mitt Romney makes his official exit today, taking the traditional ‘lone walk’ down the State House steps a day early so as not to run into Deval Patrick’s inauguration ceremony. That act is symbolic in two ways: He leaves as a loner with his own personal agenda, who never became a full member of Massachusetts’ governing class, and he’s leaving before his term is officially finished, though months after he turned his attention away from the Bay State in pursuit of national office…Some had potential, but Romney failed to do the political work required to bring them to fruition. Romney never established a solid working relationship with legislative leaders.  And while he is a good speaker and effective on the stump, he leaves the Massachusetts Republican Party weaker than ever…Too often, though, Romney has appeared more interested in picking the right fights than in building coalitions to solve problems.”  [Editorial, MetroWest Daily News, 1/3/07]

ROMNEY’S OFFICE WASN’T OPEN TO LAWMAKERS

As Governor, Romney Commandeered One Of The Massachusetts Statehouse Elevators, Barring The Public, Lawmakers And Reporters From Using It. “Veteran lawmakers complained about lack of access to Romney, a perception that wasn't helped by his decision to commandeer one of the Statehouse elevators, barring the public, lawmakers and reporters from using it during his four-year term. The elevator became a symbol of his aloofness. (It was reopened to the public after he left.)” [Associated Press, 2/4/12]

While Romney Was Governor, Troopers Erected Velvet Ropes In Front Of Romney’s Office And “Ensured That Few Approached The Governor Who Were Not Expected.” “During Romney’s four years as governor, the troopers reserved one of the two elevators outside the Corner Office solely for Romney’s use. They also erected velvet ropes in front of his office, allowing only those approved to enter. The beefy men and unflinching women of the detail ensured that few approached the governor who were not expected.” [Boston Globe, 2/3/12]

As Governor, Romney “Dismantled A Network Of Legislative Liaisons That Lawmakers Had Long Relied Upon For Expertise On How To Word A Bill Or Assist A Constituent, Requiring Them Instead To Route All Requests Through The Governor’s Office.” “Once in office, Mr. Romney brought a top-down, business-minded approach to government, even if it meant brushing aside cherished legislative traditions. He quickly dismantled a network of legislative liaisons that lawmakers had long relied upon for expertise on how to word a bill or assist a constituent, requiring them instead to route all requests through the governor’s office. ‘He wanted to control everything,’ said Pamela P. Resor, a state senator who objected to the change.” [New York Times, 3/9/12]