By Robin Delaney
MVM News Network
FORT MADISON – “Danger, Will Robinson!”
That iconic catchphrase from the 1960s “Lost in Space” television show’s robot best sums up the message two Massachusetts mayors brought to Fort Madison Thursday afternoon.
Making stops at various newspapers in the state on behalf of the President Obama’s re-election campaign, John Barrett, former mayor of North Adams, Mass., and Rob Dolan, mayor of Melrose, Mass., are warning Iowans that the candidate Mitt Romney and the elected Mitt Romney are two very different entities.
“He looked like a shining knight that was going to save the day – and Massachusetts fell for it,” Dolan said. “His policies, once he showed them, didn’t work in Massachusetts and they won’t work in Iowa or for the nation.”
The economy was the key issue in Massachusetts when Romney was elected governor there in 2002 and voters saw the successful businessman as the one that could recover lost jobs and reduce the state’s deficit spending.
However, Bartlett and Dolan say the business approach to government only works to a certain extent. Services still need to be provided.
“We understand cuts had to be made, but he just swooped in, met once with the mayors, and there are only 40 of us, and gave a Power Point presentation about what he was going to do to us,” Bartlett said. “Then he walked out of the room.”
Dolan said soon after Romney took office, he had to close some elementary schools, lay off firefighters and cut 20 percent of his staff.
“He looked at us like a subsidiary of a company he bought and he was going to cut whatever it took to make it look good on paper,” Bartlett added. “That only works so far with government because you’re not there for profits and you still have certain basic services you have to provide.”
The duo said under the Romney-Ryan budget, the nation can expect cuts in education, public transportation, infrastructure assistance and public safety because that is what Massachusetts experienced during Romney’s four years as governor.
However, the two did have something positive to say about the Republican presidential hopeful. The one-term governor is credited with approving, rather than vetoing, the Massachusetts health care reform legislation, the first of its kind in the U.S., which provided almost-universal health care access through state-level subsidies and individual mandates to purchase insurance.
“That was best thing that ever happened to Massachusetts. Our chamber of commerce, which has a lot lawyers, independent business owners, were paying as much as $1,200 a month for their family health insurance. Now they get it for a portion of that,” Dolan said.
But the irony, Barrett says, is that Romney has vowed to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has become known as Obamacare since President Barack Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010.
“If there’s anything he should be proud of, it’s Romneycare,” Dolan said.
And, much like his pledge to American voters during his presidential campaign, Romney told Massachusetts residents that he would not raise taxes while correcting the state’s economy.
“And he didn’t. He’s says he won’t raise taxes, and he probably won’t. What he did do, and will most likely do again, is implement a bunch of fees,” Dolan said. “He had us paying fees for death certificates, birth certificates, for you kids to play sports, be in drama club, for people to ride the bus.”
Bartlett says the fact that Romney does not have single Massachusetts Republican speaking on his behalf should tell American voters how the state regards its former governor.
“He has an approval rating of 30 percent. He won’t win his own state,” Bartlett said. “Even John Kerry and Michael Dukakis won the state.”
Barrett says he and Dolan are making the rounds in Iowa, which is seen as one of the three key states in the upcoming presidential election, to tell Iowans that what they think they will get, if Romney wins the election, may very different once Romney takes the presidential oath.
“He came in (to Massachusetts) pro-choice, in favor of same-sex marriage – a moderate with a pragmatic approach,” Barrett said. “Now he’s prolife, against same sex marriage and well, he’s never held an opinion longer than an election cycle.”