Speaking in Virginia this morning, Mitt Romney tried to clarify what he called “confusion” over his comments yesterday in Ohio.
“I fully support Governor’s Kasich’s…question 2 in Ohio,” Romney said today in Fairfax, a suburb just outside of Washington, D.C. “Actually, I think, on my website, I think back as early as April, I laid out that I support question 2 and Governor Kasich’s effort to restrict collective bargaining in Ohio in the ways its described.”
Issue 2, which will be voted on in the November 8 election, determines whether state employees can continue to collectively bargain. Politico’s Jonathan Martin reported yesterday that Romney had come out in support of Issue 2 as early as June on the campaign’s Facebook page.
Yesterday, however, in Ohio, Romney would not endorse that state’s ballot referendum on collective bargaining for state employees. After an appearance with Governor John Kasich yesterday outside of Cincinnati, Peter Hamby reported:
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 rein 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."
Romney rival Rick Perry was quick to criticize Romney's apparent refusal to endorse the collective bargaining initiative. "As a true conservative, I stand with Gov. Kasich in promoting S.B.5 for fiscal responsibility and job creation in Ohio," Perry told CNN.
Today, Romney insisted that he is “110 percent” behind the collective bargaining issue on the ballot in Ohio and that his comments yesterday referred to those other initiatives on which Ohioans will be voting. One of those issues on the ballot (called Issue 3) has to do with individual health insurance mandates and Romney, who signed into law his own mandate in Massachusetts, said he did not want to take a position on it.
“I’ve said that that should be up to individual states,” Romney said in Virginia today. “I, of course, took my state in one direction. They [Ohio] may want to go in a different direction. I don’t want to tell them what I think they ought to do in that regard, that’s up to them. So it was with regards to that issue that I didn’t want to make a commitment on.”
Romney was appearing with Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and lieutenant governor Bill Bolling at the Fairfax County Republican party headquarters.