You could get an ice cream headache trying to figure out Mitt Romney’s stance on any particular issue.
The man who has devoted the last 10 percent of his life attempting to become president of the United States, because he doesn’t appear to have anything else productive to do, has been forced to pedal backwards on just about every issue while trying to please the far-right base of the Republican Party.
His supporters don’t seem all that bothered by either the flips or the flops. He has victories in New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada on his resume, plenty of cash on hand and a decent amount of momentum at his back.
What former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards once said of his own election chances 30 years ago (“The only way I can lose this election is to be caught in bed with a dead girl or live boy”) can also be said of multi-millionaire Romney.
And that’s a shame, because Romney would be no friend to the gambling community. Last week in Nevada, the human weather vane announced that he will not support legislation that would legalize, regulate and tax online wagering.
“Gaming has a social effect on a lot of people,” Romney said during an interview in the leadup to the Nevada caucus, which he won. “I don’t want to increase access to gaming. I feel that we have plenty of access to gaming right now through the various casinos and establishments that exist.”
Guess all that talk about job creation and celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit applies to just about everything except online gambling.
A few weeks earlier, in South Carolina, Romney was singing a different tune when he answered a question about a bill that would crack down on Internet piracy.
“As written, (the bill) is far too intrusive, far too expansive, far too threatening to freedom of speech and movement of information across the Internet,” Romney said. “It would have a potentially depressing impact on one of the fastest growing industries in America, which is the Internet and all those industries connected to it.”
So Romney’s position, I would guess, is this: Keep the Internet free, except for people who want to use it to gamble.
Opposing Internet gambling does a couple of things for Romney:
- It throws one more log on his “Look, I’m really a conservative” fire and shows the far-right Hezbollah wing of the Republican Party that he can be one of them when he chooses.
- It keeps alive the possibility that Newt Gingrich-backer Sheldon Adelson will throw millions into a Romney political action committee if and when Gingrich goes under for the third time.
The Las Vegas Sands CEO has not embraced online gambling, even as rivals MGM and Caesars move forward, and Adelson would no doubt love to have a President Romney in his back pocket.
About the same time that Romney was dissing online gambling, Adelson was saying that he could throw his support behind Romney in a race against President Obama.
Romney’s statement made for a lousy day at the Poker Players Alliance, which feared that momentum toward federal legalization might be slowed.
“Governor Romney’s statement seems to be based on a misperception of regulation and the status quo,” said PPA Executive Director John Pappas. “We hope to educate him that regulation will mean strong enforcement and meaningful consumer protections, while doing nothing will only exacerbate any perceived problems he has with gaming.”
All of that is a nice of way of saying that Romney has zero clue about anything to do with gambling. If his hundreds of millions of dollars are safe in offshore bank accounts, then what’s the problem if we risk our money wagering with a site not located in the Cayman Islands?
Still, the PPA held out hope that someone could get to Romney on the issue. But given Romney’s religion and the fact that he has little to gain and a lot to lose, getting the candidate to go 180 appears extremely unlikely at the point. Like starters on a pitch count, Romney is allowed only one major flop every three months or so.
Romney’s position may have you scratching your head, but one of his opponents, Rick Santorum, broke the bizarre meter with this statement:
“It’s one thing to come to Las Vegas and do gaming and participate in the shows and entertainment and that kind of thing. It’s another thing to be able to sit in your home and have access to that.”
So if anyone wants to gamble, we need to fly to Las Vegas and sit through a 90-minute Celine Dion concert before we feed $20 into a Wheel of Fortune slot machine?
The chances of federal legalization of Internet gambling are about as likely as drawing five consecutive inside straights, so it’s improbable that Romney will ever get the chance to veto an online Internet gambling law. And legal gambling authority, Nelson Rose, said recently that the Dept. of Justice will not change its position, allowing states to legalize Internet gambling if that’s what they want to do.
That said, with a healthy lead in the polls, Romney will no doubt set the cruise control on his luxury SUV to exactly the speed limit. It’s not likely he’ll be asked about the issue again anytime soon and the man who once offered to bet Rick Perry $10,000 during a debate, probably is done talking about it.
Mitt Romney is just not a gambling man.