Kennedy Helped Shape Romney’s Career, and Still Haunts It





BOSTON — When Gov. Mitt Romney signed legislation in April 2006 requiring most Massachusetts residents to have health coverage, Senator Edward M. Kennedy stood by his side, beaming like a proud father. They were onstage at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston, a setting that had a special resonance for the two.

Twelve years earlier, they shared that stage as opponents in a bitter Senate race. Back then, Mr. Romney accused Mr. Kennedy of waging “untrue, unfair and sleazy” personal attacks. Now, the Republican governor was introducing the liberal Democratic senator as “my collaborator and friend.”

Mr. Romney’s complicated relationship with Mr. Kennedy, from campaign foe to health care partner, helped shape both his political career and his image. Today, as a Republican candidate for president, he is courting conservative voters, a constituency that does not look kindly upon Mr. Kennedy or the Romney approach to health care, which will come under scrutiny again this week when the Supreme Court takes up challenges to a similar measure championed by President Obama.

But try as he might to distance himself, Mr. Romney cannot escape Mr. Kennedy’s influence. On the campaign trail, he uses the senator, who died in 2009, as a foil, denouncing Mr. Kennedy’s “liberal welfare state” policies and boasting of how Mr. Kennedy “had to take out a mortgage on his house to make sure he could defeat me.”...



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