Observers see Romney shift to center

May 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- Mitt Romney, his nomination as the Republican U.S. presidential candidate all but assured, has started to woo voting blocs he may have alienated.

Political observers say he has begun moving more toward the center to make the appeal, but campaign aides have denied he's softened any of his positions, The Hill reported.

Romney's campaign said President Obama has followed the former Massachusetts governor's plan to bail out the auto industry and said Romney didn't move from his hard stance on student loans when he said he agreed to support a temporary extension of the current rate to prevent it from nearly doubling in July if Congress fails to act.

Still, others told The Hill, Romney knows he needs to reach out to women, independents, students and minority groups if he wants to win in November.

"Romney is starting to shift to the center. He knows he needs to get independent voters in November and if he doesn't he's going to lose," Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said.

Political consultant John Weaver, who worked on Sen. John McCain's 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, said Romney's campaign has "much ground to make up among first- and second-time voters, Hispanics, working-class whites, working-class women. They have to move away from the policy positions they felt they had to take to secure the 2008 nomination and the even more extreme positions they took to win the 2012 nomination."

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and strategist, told The Hill Romney is doing what he must to win the general election.

"By definition in a general election, you're appealing to a broader audience than in a primary process," Ayres said. "You have to address issues of less interest to primary audiences and of more concern to a general election audience and that's what he's doing."

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