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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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Romney Faces Renewed Concerns About His Social Conservatism

time to read: 3 min