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« Morning Thoughts: SCHIP On The Shoulder | Blog Home Page | Not A Vote Of Confidence »

Romney's New Massachusetts Dilemma

BOSTON -- Former Gov. Mitt Romney is not popular in his adopted state. Polls toward the end of the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, when Romney decided against a second term, showed the public narrowly disapproving of the incumbent, and after months of bashing the state to Republican primary voters around the country, Bay Staters think even worse of him. "He should be impeached," one close friend and Massachusetts native told me, apparently unaware of the requirement that Romney still be in office.

While the former governor is shy about discussing Massachusetts in the primary, if he makes it to the general the message is going to change in a heartbeat, to a much friendlier bipartisan message. Yet there are still things Romney can brag about in Massachusetts, and still things his opponents can hit him on. Yesterday was a perfect example, and proves why the Boston media is one of the toughest crowds in the country.

A recent FBI report showing an increase in violent crime for the past two years spurred the Boston Herald to investigate just how much crime changed while Romney was governor. The results: Not good for Mitt. Murder was up 7.5%, outpacing the national 1.8% increase.

But anyone listening to WBUR, Boston's National Public Radio station, yesterday would have been hard pressed to miss news that new data out of the U.S. Department of Education showed Massachusetts kids scored higher than any other state on three out of four National Assessment of Educational Progress exams, and tied for first on number four. The state also won top honors the last time the test was administered, in 2005, when Romney was in office.

So, does Romney brag about his success in educating Bay State children? Does he defend himself from charges that crime spiked under his watch? Or does he just artfully change the subject and pray no one remembers he's from liberal, lefty Massachusetts?