BOSTON - The gold dome of the Massachusetts State House where Mitt Romney spent four years as governor shimmers in the sun this clear and cold election morning, but in the streets of Boston it's hard to find voices that support the man who hopes to be elected president of the United States by the end of the day.
"He may have sounded good when he ran for governor here, but as governor many did not like him," said Sue Reardon, 45, an attorney walking up a tree-lined hill towards the state house. "And especially now when he's really all over the map, changing his mind so many times people feel they cannot trust him," she said.
Elected in 2002, Romney spent four years as governor of Massachusetts, a state with a strong liberal and Democratic tradition, that nevertheless seems to have a penchant for centrist Republican governors. But he's projected to lose Massachusetts in the presidential election, with many complaining that Romney forgot about the state towards the end of his term as governor, once he had set his sights on the White House. "He could have done more for Massachusetts," said Madeline Powers, 24, as she headed to her job at a Boston public school where she works with autistic children. "He left us hanging a little bit."
Romney's first presidential bid came in 1996 but he lost the Republican primary to John McCain. In Massachusetts he seems to be admired most for helping pass - together with the state legislature which is about 80 percent Democratic - the groundbreaking healthcare reform that provides near-universal coverage for Massachusetts residents. "He did make a mark there but then when it came to healthcare he started shooting it down once he ran for president. In general his flip-flopping has become obvious," said Randy Faulkner, 63, a retired iron worker who now helps run his son's business selling scarves and hats on the edge of Boston Common, a park area founded in 1634 known as a stage for public speaking and debates. "He had to be a centrist here, he had no other choice in Massachusetts; a conservative Republican would never get anything done here," said Faulkner. "But I'm a union iron worker so I had no use for him. I've been strictly Democrat my whole life. Our entire philosophies are different," he said, squinting into the sun.
"He spoke very differently as a presidential candidate but he has to energize the base," said Dan Pearce, 41, a technical director of a design company, referring to the more conservative heart of the Republican party. "I think it's the social issues that polarize people," said Pearce who woke up early to vote before work.
Jim Cornie, 75, a small business owner who founded a hi-tech foundry, said that although Romney has promoted himself as a friend to small business, he is not convinced. "We had a good look at him," said Cornie, referring to Romney as governor. "If he's the face of capitalism, then there is something wrong with capitalism."
Riding in a subway as it crossed the bridge over the Charles River, a 22-year-old medical researcher who only wanted to be identified by Emily, her first name, said Romney did not speak to her at all. "He seems pretty duplicitous and I fundamentally disagree with his politics," she said.
Powers, the young teacher, had a similar take. "The main reason I voted against him is that I am strongly interested in education and I fear he would cut a lot of funding," she said. Other women voters in Boston said they were worried by his stance on abortion and birth control and the sense that women were just not on his radar at all. "He looks at women as if they are non-existent," said Faye, a woman in her thirties who was out campaigning for U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren, wearing mittens as she held up an election sign along a busy intersection. Another woman campaigning with her recalled Romney's remarks about searching for female candidates for cabinet posts. "And those binders of women? Can you believe that?" she said.
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