Mitt Romney is rolling out an endorsement today that, in a more sensible world, would be a major boon to his Iowa. Longtime former Republican Governor Robert Ray is set to announce his support for the campaign on the same day that Romney begins airing his first TV ad in Iowa.
Ray served as Iowa's chief executive from 1969 through 1983 and is remembered fondly by most Iowans for his moderate governance, though not all segments of the state's population share that reverence. If any of Iowa's social conservatives were still going to support Romney (the small handful they might be), Ray will drive them further away.
The campaign last fall against three Supreme Court judges who legalized same-sex marriage has become a galvanizing force for conservative voters this year. Ray was literally the voice for the weak-willed opposition campaign last fall, speaking on a radio ad that served as the only paid media for the pro-judge groups. "We'll never agree with every call, but you shouldn't fire the good referees over just one call," Ray said in the ad. "The same is true for the Iowa Supreme Court."
Ray also comes from the pre-2008 strain of the Republicanism before the party viewed using government incentivized market solutions as a means to increase insurance coverage as an inherent evil. Ray is one of two co-chairs at the National Coalition on Health Care, a group that advocated for the Affordable Care Act when it was being debated in Congress. "The Coalition and the NCHC Action Fund applaud the extraordinary and visionary leadership that has produced what is clearly among the top domestic legislative achievements of the past century," the group said in a press release on passage of the bill.
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