where has this guy been?

In a New Hampshire speech,  John McCain, shall we say, seriously questions Mitt Romney’s authenticity.

Courtesy of the Corner:

I don’t usually do this but I’m going to depart for a moment from the issues I want to talk to you about today.  One of the other Republican candidates made an extraordinary statement yesterday.  Former Governor Romney yesterday proclaimed himself the only real Republican in this race.  As we all know, when he ran for office in Massachusetts being a Republican wasn’t much of a priority for him.  In fact, when he ran against Ted Kennedy, he said he didn’t want to return to the days of Reagan-Bush.  I always thought Ronald Reagan was a real Republican.

When Governor Romney donated money to a Democratic candidate in New Hampshire, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans.  When he voted for a Democratic candidate for President, Paul Tsongas, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans.  When he refused to endorse the Contract with America, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans.  And when he was embracing the Democratic position on many major issues of the day, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans.

So you’ll understand why I’m a little perplexed when Mitt Romney now suggests that he’s a better Republican than me, or that he speaks for the Republican wing of the Republican Party.

I think I’ve gotten to know the people of New Hampshire pretty well.  I know that before I can win your vote, I have to win your respect.  And to do that, you expect me to be honest with you about what I believe.  You might not always agree with me on every issue, but I hope you know I’m not going to con you.  The most important thing we have in this life is our self-respect.  And I’m not going to trade mine for anyone’s vote or for any office.  I’m going to tell you what I believe and let the chips fall where they will.  I’m confident New Hampshire Republicans feel the same way about your self-respect as I feel about mine.

Ouch. That’s the kind of message that can resonate with people.  That’s McCain’s strength as a candidate.  He is authentic.  You know where he stands.  Unfortunately, he stands opposed to conservatives on issues like illegal immigration and campaign-finance reform. He has burned a lot of bridges with us, and this is what is keeping him from being a factor in this presidential race.

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