An intern from Mitt Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign says that his campaign did authorize and pay for the distribution of a Gay Pride Week flier, despite adamant denials from Romney’s current staff that the handout was authorized, reports The Hill.
The statement, made by the Manhattan Institute’s Josh Barro to Buzzfeed, directly contradicts what Romney’s top spokesman Eric Ferhnstrom told The Huffington Post on Sunday.
Barro, who served as an intern on Romney’s gubernatorial campaign, explained that on Pride weekend in 2002, the campaign sent about a half-dozen interns to a “post-parade festival on Boston Common” to hand out flyers proclaiming that “all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.”
“On pride weekend, the campaign sent a contingent of about a half-dozen of us to the post-parade festival on Boston Common to hand out those fliers,” Josh Barro, a former Romney intern who now works for a conservative think tank, told Buzzfeed. “The thing was organized by a full-time staffer.”
Ferhnstrom, who served as communications director on that same campaign, told The Huffington Post on Sunday that the Romney’s election team had not been involved in producing or handing out the flyers and that the former Massachusetts governor shouldn’t be held accountable for them.
“I don’t know where those pink flyers came from. I was the communications director on the 2002 campaign. I don’t know who distributed them … I never saw them and I was the communications director,” Ferhnstrom said.
In addition to wishing recipients a “great Pride weekend,” the handout states that “all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference” and says that it was paid for by the Romney for Governor Committee and the Kerry Murphy Healey Committee. Healey was Romney’s running mate in the 2002 elections.
Ferhnstrom insisted on Sunday that there had been “no evolution,” that Romney has always been opposed to gay marriage and civil unions, while he is inclined to extend some legal benefits to gay couples. But on Monday, Buzzfeed also turned up an old 1994 newspaper cover, featuring then Senate-candidate Romney claiming that he would “be better than Ted [Kennedy] for gay rights.”
Romney was pressed on the issue of gay rights during Sunday’s presidential debate in New Hampshire. He said as governor, he consistently opposed gay marriage, but did not consider sexuality when making appointments.
“But if people are looking for someone who will discriminate against gays … or say they don’t have full rights in this country, they won’t find that from me,” Romney said.
Romney’s campaign has managed to open itself up to an attack by the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama, which questioned Romney’s rejection of the flyers’ language.
“After Mitt Romney claimed he’d be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Senator Kennedy when he was running for office in Massachusetts, and one day after saying that gays should have ‘full rights,’ Romney’s campaign today disavowed a flyer that simply said ‘all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference,'” emailed Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign’s press secretary.
“What on that flyer does Mitt Romney disagree with? Does he not believe all Americans should have equal rights? Who is he trying to pander to now? This is why Americans will have trouble trusting Mitt Romney — he doesn’t keep his word.”
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is poised to take a big step toward the Republican U.S. presidential nomination on Tuesday by capturing New Hampshire, hoping to ride out last-minute attacks from his rivals and recover from a self-inflicted wound, according to Reuters.
The former governor of neighboring Massachusetts carried a sizeable lead in polls into voting day, a sufficient cushion that should force rivals Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum into a battle for second place.
Residents in the small town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire were the first to cast ballots in the state’s presidential primary election just after midnight on Tuesday.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman each won 2 votes of the 9 cast in the contest. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) each received 1 vote. Three Democratic ballots were cast for President Barack Obama.