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Romney Faces Renewed Concerns About His Social Conservatism

By Javier Manjarres

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has announced the formation of his campaign’s Florida Social-Conservative Steering Committee team, the purpose of which is to help his campaign bridge the gap with conservatives that have shown strong reservations about his numerous changes of position on key social issues. But now Romney may have to revisit the issue of whether he is genuinely “pro-life” as new questions surface about an old child abuse case that was botched while Romney was Governor of Massachusetts- a significant matter that has not received much attention this election cycle.

Over the years Governor Romney has changed his position several times on the gay marriage and abortion issue- two of the most controversial and defining issues for conservatives.

To compound Romney’s problems, his ‘Romneycare’ initiative in Massachusetts has proven to be a disaster, and as Massachusetts struggles to keep the program solvent, Romney is caught in a box as he continues to defend his healthcare initative while simultaneously pledging to repeal ‘Obamacare’ – many point out that Romney’s healthcare measure is nothing more than socialized medicine at the state level.

In 2005, then 11 year-old Haleigh Poutre was a victim of a horrific attack that left her severely bruised and comotose. Poutre was allegedly attacked by her stepfather and adoptive mom/aunt, who was later found alongside her mother, dead in an apparent murder-suicide. The young Poutre was then taking in by the Massechusetts Department of Social Services after being hospitalized, but the DSS came under intense criticism because the DSS admitted that it had missed initial signs of child neglect and abuse.

  “Denise Monteiro, spokeswoman for DSS, who has acknowledged that the  agency missed signs of Haleigh’s abuse…From the time Haleigh was 6, she lived in Westfield with Holli and Jason Strickland, who married in 2001. Holli Strickland legally adopted the girl when she was 7. As she went through elementary school, the DSS received numerous complaints from sources it won’t name that Haleigh was being neglected or abused, but never concluded that the Stricklands’ home was unsafe. Last Sept. 11, relatives took the unconscious girl to a local hospital. She was found to have bruises all over her body, at different stages of healing, as well as severe traumatic brain injuries and a body temperature of 85 degrees… [Boston Globe, 1/18/06]

At the time the case was unfolding, then Governor Romney kept his views about the case close to his vest. Meanwhile, one of Poutre’s abusers, stepfather Jason Strickland, fought the Massachusetts DSS in court to keep Haleigh on a ventilator, as the DSS wanted to pull the plug on the battered child because they felt the additional medical treatment would not save Haleigh.  Even the doctors treating Haleigh at the time were at odds with one another as to remove the feeding tube or not once the ventilator was removed.

“The state Department of Social Services now has custody of Haleigh, and has filed a do-not-resuscitate order in Juvenile Court that also seeks to end her life support. Haleigh has been described in media as being on a ventilator and feeding tube. DSS spokeswoman Denise Monteiro would not comment about Haleigh’s life support. She said the girl is still hospitalized in critical condition, and said DSS officials speak frequently with her biological family. The case has been impounded by a judge in Juvenile Court, and details have been kept private.” [Associated Press, 11/17/05]

In spite of the Department of Social Services’ stepped-up “pull the plug” rhetoric as well as a court order that granted the DSS the permission to take Haleigh off of life support, Haleigh’s medical condition began to improve.  Only after Haleigh’s health began to improve did Governor Romney speak out on the case.

 ‘At the present time, my concern is with this young girl and her current status. In light of reported improvements in her medical condition, it should be clear to everyone that no action should be taken to end this girl’s life.’- Governor Mitt Romney

In contrast, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was outspoken in his opposition to removing Terry Schiavo’s
feeding tubes. Yet Romney wasn’t alone in avoiding the issue.” [Boston
Herald, 1/21/06]

Back in 2005, conservative blogger and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin opined the following-

“The state of Massachusetts almost murdered her.  They deemed her ‘virtually brain-dead,’ in a ‘vegetative state,’ and not worth saving. “-Michelle Malkin

Was Governor Romney supportive of little Haleigh’s ‘right to life’ throughout her whole ordeal or only when it was politically safe and expedient for him to opine on the issue?

And how will Romney’s newly formed ‘social-conservative’ team answer concerns relating to this case- a well-respected team of  pro-lifers and social conservatives that backed Senator Marco Rubio because of the ironclad social-conservative positions he staked out during his 2010 Senatorial campaign as well as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the strong principled position he took during the Terry Schiavo case in 2003?

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About author

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres

As the managing editor of The Shark Tank, Javier was awarded the 2011 CPAC Blogger of the Year. Countless videos and articles from the Shark Tank have been featured on Fox News, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, and other national news publications. Javier has also appeared on Univision’s “Al Punto” and numerous radio shows, including being the weekly 92.5 Fox News' DayBreak with Drew Steele political contributor, as well as one of NewsmaxTV's conservative commentators. Javier has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Learn more at

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  • elizabeth dunn

    Despite Romneycare and a perceived indifference to socially conservative values, I support Mitt Romney in his bid for leader of the free world in 2012.

    I’m drawn to the pragmatic conclusion that there is just one thing – jobs – and we need to focus on the answers to these questions about jobs:

    •How are they created in the private sector?
    •Why do they disappear?
    •How do we compete with companies in other countries?

    Romney’s private sector resume assures me he has the necessary skill-sets to provide some effective answers:

    •Consulted with hundreds of start-ups and developed companies as VP of Bain & Company
    •Managed $65 billion in assets as co-founder of spin-off Bain Capital
    •Returned to Bain & Company to lead a successful financial turnaround
    •Rescued 2002 Winter Olympics from a $379 million deficit and turned in a $56 million profit

    We need an accomplished business leader with established bona fides in crisis management; a leader with the acumen to dismantle destructive regulatory policies, provide a freer environment for businesses to prosper, and work productively with the impressive young turks in Congress valiantly struggling to wield the big knife.

    This country is on the verge of a serious financial meltdown, so I will vote for the candidate who has demonstrated a true aptitude for the ‘making of the donuts’.

    • DeannaRae

      If it’s “just one thing, jobs”… then why would you vote for Romney who, when given the opportunity, governed like Obama the job killer?

      • elizabeth dunn

        I have enormous respect for his private sector accomplishments; he helped to create many jobs at Bain Capital. What a relief it would be to have a president with first-hand knowledge of dealing with anti-business regulation!

        • Bryan K Donnelly

          Let Mitt exercise his private sector skills where he can’t stick US with monstrosities like Romnmeycare! In the private sector. Best of luck Mitt, make millions more! President Gingrich or Caine will be pulling for you.

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  • Joe Dougherty

    The fact that Mitt Romney has to create a committee to “bridge the gap with conservatives that have shown strong reservations about his numerous changes of position on key social issues” indicates that, well, he’s not a particularly strong conservative to begin with.

    This is almost like admitting defeat before the contest has started.

    Had I not already disqualified him as a candidate, this would certainly do it for me.

  • James P. McGarvey

    Human life is the greatest resource of any nation. Every day in America abortionists take the lives of over 3,000 unborn human beings with the sanction of the state. The blood of every life taken is polluting the land of the this great nation and God is not turning a blind eye to this holocaust. He will not let the shedding of innocent blood go unpunished. We think otherwise at our own peril.

    This sacrifice of these children on the altar of convenience is not only THE moral issue of the day it is THE most critical issue facing our nation. The economic crisis of America is the result of a culture of greed, corruption and self-indulgence, given legitimacy by moral relativism, that has dominated our nation for the last half century.

    The transcendent truth of our Judeo-Christian heritage that has guided this nation for over 200 years has been marginalized to such an extent in the formation of public policy that the sanctity of human life has become expendable when it interferes with the agenda of the secular humanist.

    The brutality of Hitler’s National Socialism, the Communism of Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, and the totalitarianism of multiply absolute dictators were characterized by a similar calloused disregard of human life. Check out history. No civilization/nation that has perpetrated or permitted the killing of its innocent young has survived. You can only read about them in the history books.

    America needs a president that understands that the sanctity of human of life is THE first right from which every other right proceeds, as set forth in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our founding fathers recognized that the right to life is preeminent. They recognized that it was an “unalienable” right “endowed” by our Creator, not a right that could be given or taken away by the state. America disregards this truth at the risk of its very existence. Our faltering economy could very well God’s merciful way of calling us back to this truth upon which, God in his Providence, founded this nation.

    I am looking for a presidential candidate that understands this and is willing to lead our nation back to embrace the transcendent truth upon which it was founded.

  • Don White

    The above article is a hatchet job on Romney. While I’m not a Romney supporter, right is still right. This article doesn’t exactly ring out with truth, does it? Romney doesn’t deserve this kind of reportage. No one does. I was a newsman for the AP and know where this came from. I have had a bone to pick with this so-called reporter or truth, Javier Manjarres, before. No amount of sensationalism can substitute for correct journalistic principle. No responsible paper or blog should print this garbage tripe.
    Don White

  • Pingback: Fla. Conservatives Criticize Romney’s Handling of Past Euthanasia Case | ANOINTED BLOG()

  • elizabeth dunn

    Congrats, Javier. You have incited a vibrant and enjoyable conversation here; surely hope there’s more to come!

  • ben traina

    I have strong doubts about Romney, but stronger doubts that any other Republican can beat Obama. Romney, with all his many warts, is a million times better than any Democrat. I will support him, I MUST support him enthusiastically.
    Ben Traina

  • Lady Gator

    The article is wrong about what Gov. Romney did as governor, on several points.

    I remember watching the case closely mentioned above AS it was happening. When Romney heard what was happening to the girl, he began to have it investigated gave an order that he would not allow anything to happen to her…ie: to be disconnected, she did not get better before he did that, and shortly after that order was given, the little girl began to improve.

    Massachusetts is not Florida. Gov. Romney acted prudently in her case, Romney’s action most definitly saved her life. I believe
    Gov. Jeb Bush’s example of protecting Terri Schiavo was an inspiration and example to Romney, of a morally courageous governor trying to protect an innocent citizen’s Right to Life guranteed under the Constitution.

    FUTHERMORE, when Mitt Romney was governor here is his record: he VETOED embryonic stem cell research and human cloning which would have destroyed innocent human life, he VETOED a bill which woud have redefined life beginning at implantation (versus conception) and he also VETOED lower the age of consent for an abortion from 18 to 16. Please do your homework Javier! Romney was actually more conservative than The Gipper when he was governor of California on the life issue.
    Romney’s Social Conservatives Team is strong and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who is the former head of the Christian Coalition of Florida, is also backing Mitt Romney for President.

  • Bryan K Donnelly


    Mitt “the chin with TV anchor hair” Romney is not:

    1. A social conservative

    2. A fiscal conservative

    3. A libertarian conservative

    4. A constitutional conservative

    5. A national defense conservative



    He is a northeastern liberal “inside” establishment Rockefeller type, just BARELY a REPUBLICAN.

    However, if by some catastrophe he becomes the Republican nominee, I’ll HOLD MY NOSE and vote for him. But Obama WANTS to run against him because he is easiest to beat. He’s Obama LITE!

    • elizabeth dunn

      Well, there’s only a $300 million net worth differential between the two and oh… one has made his living off the backs of taxpayers; the other has earned his.

  • elizabeth dunn

    Bryan K Donnelly,
    The original Romneycare plan was distorted by MA state legislation and the governor did not have the votes to veto the addenda. Although I despise the idea of a public healthcare system, I do respect the fact that Romney is a staunch supporter of states rights. (I believe in federalism.)

    Romney is cognizant of the negative effects of Obamacare and has been adamant in his desire to dismantle it.

    This country is in desperate need of an experienced CEO who has succeeded in the private sector and who HAS NOT lived off the backs of the productive as has BHO (the most egregious example of the parasitic).

    I think constantly of the Founders- men of considerable wealth- who strived to prevent excessive taxation of the electorate during a time of great duress.

    Let’s think BIG picture…