Dubbing Massachusetts “the liberal foil” for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Boston Globe investigative reporter led a lecture on the narrative of the former governor’s life last night in Framingham.
Romney has gone through a shocking evolution over the course of his campaigns since 1994, Scott Helman said, adding that the politician’s current political profile in the national election “is remarkably different” from the man who ran for the senate in 1994.
Helman is a co-author of the new biography, “”, and a staff writer for the . He spoke Thursday night to an audience of around 50 people at the , answered audience questions, and signed a handful of copies of his book.
Helman spoke of everything from the surprising insight he and his co-author, Michael Kranish, gained from compiling the book, to the predicted defining features of the next steps of Romney’s campaign. He also addressed the markers of Romney’s strategic thinking as a businessman turned politician, and the deep influence of Romney’s religion on his character.
When Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he carried much success in the suburbs of Boston like Framingham, so it will be curious to see what people here think of him now, Helman said. Voters will ask themselves “is this the person I voted for in the state? Is this the same Mitt Romney?” he said.
Helman described healthcare as one of the issues that will define the next stage of Romney’s campaign. As governor, Romney spent months trying to make the individual mandate happen, a success that defined him as a great leader and as a big figure to democrats, Helman said.
, it is striking to see a present-day Romney that won’t answer questions regarding an issue he once championed on a state level, Helman said.
Romney is a thinker “who loves wallowing in the data,” Helman said, describing this reliance on data and specific questions as “the Bain way.” As a businessman turned politician, Romney changes himself to whatever he needs to be, Helman said, calling this strategic analysis both “a pragmatic outlook,” and “a calculating approach.”
In the current campaign, Romney is running to be a civil president and not a religious leader, Helman said. The Republican nominee often keeps his religious and cultural background from view to emphasize his image as a politician, Helman said, adding that consequently, voters don’t always feel as though they can connect with him.
In fact, Romney maintains “a big religious commitment,” Helman said. The politician is heavily involved with the affairs of his religious community and his ancestry is deeply entwined in the history of Mormonism itself, Helman said.
Helman and Kranish's book is a Boston Globe project that relies on information compiled by Globe reporters since Romney stepped onto the political scene almost 20 years ago. The Globe “has tremendous institutional knowledge” of Romney, Helman said, adding that his task was to turn his and co-workers’ newspaper work into a narrative of Romney’s life.