Mitt the next Cheney? Democrats blast Romney as potential running mate
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Posted: 1:14 PM- WASHINGTON -- Democrats assailed Mitt Romney on Thursday as a flip-flopper who would continue the Bush administration's failed policies if named as John McCain's running mate.

In a conference call to reporters, Democratic officials offered up a pre-emptive strike against Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is reportedly on the short list to fill out the rest of the Republican ticket.

"There's nothing more scary than Gov. Romney being vice president," said David Woodward, chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Party in Michigan, where Romney grew up.

Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John E. Walsh said Romney was a "disaster" for the state and a recent poll showed 41 percent of residents there would be less likely to vote for McCain if Romney was the running mate.

"The flip-flopping is legendary," Walsh said, accusing Romney of changing his positions for political expediency. Romney's "gyrations on abortion really are Olympic" quality, Walsh added about the former head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Romney, who is LDS, is tremendously popular in Utah, where he received 90 percent of the vote in the Republican presidential primary.

It's a different story - at lest among Democrats - in Massachusetts.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said Romney assumes his positions without "moral scruple" and wasn't good at governing during his four years on Beacon Hill.

"This man has zig-zagged extraordinarily," Frank said, noting that Romney didn't want to be Massachusetts governor; he "was just there to advance his presidential campaign."

The Democrats were announcing a new Web site, www.thenextcheney.com, which blasts McCain's potential running mates as a continuation of the Bush administration and likening them to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Romney's spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom wasn't moved by the Democrats' rhetoric.

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that bitterly divisive Democrats like Barney Frank don't have anything good to say about Republicans," Fehrnstrom said.

"Fair-minded people look at Mitt Romney and see a strong leader, a man of character and integrity who was elected as governor at a time of job loss and recession and who managed to balance the budget all four years without raising taxes and get the Massachusetts economy moving again."

Romney also took a hit Thursday from a fellow party member and rival.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on Fox News that McCain shouldn't pick Romney because he is not trusted by social conservatives.

"I think the issue is that, you know, in many ways, Mitt Romney has had very definite swings of position, not just on one or two things, but on many of the issues," Huckabee said.

Romney and Huckabee have had a bitter relationship since the primary contest where they attacked each other in advertisements, in debates and on the stump.

Romney has repeatedly said he plans to be campaigning for the GOP ticket, not on it. But he has not denied he would accept the position if offered.

McCain could announce his choice for a running mate soon. The Republican National Convention opens on Sept. 1.

tburr@sltrib.com