A 1994 videotape mysteriously posted on YouTube.com prompted Republican Mitt Romney to declare Wednesday, "I was wrong on some issues back then," while also insisting to social conservatives key to his presidential campaign that he is one of them.
The tape of a Senate debate between Romney and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy showed Romney defending a woman's right to abortion, saying he supported allowing gays in the Boy Scouts and distancing himself from former President Reagan by noting he was a registered independent during the period the conservative icon was leading the nation.
All of the material has been previously published, but its presentation in video form - and on the easily shared YouTube medium - prompted an immediate response from Romney, who formed a presidential exploratory committee last week.
Running on his record
"If you want to know where I stand by the way, you don't just have to listen to my words, you can go to look at my record as governor," Romney said during a late-day appearance on the "Glenn and Helen Show," a radio program featuring Tennessee psychologist Helen Smith and her husband, Glenn Reynolds.
"Frankly, in the bluest of states, facing the most liberal media in the country, I've led the fight to preserve traditional marriage. I've taken every legal step I could conceive of, to prevent same-sex marriage."
A tape of Romney's call was immediately posted on YouTube. Asked whom the campaign suspected of posting the tape, Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said: "It doesn't matter. We used the very same mediums made available to those seeking to attack Governor Romney to set the record straight in his own words with the facts."
'Multiple choice' Romney?
In the 1994 tape, Romney is asked about abortion rights and responds: "One of the great things about our nation is we're each entitled to have strong personal beliefs - and we encourage other people to do the same. ... I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country."
Kennedy retorted that while he was "pro-choice," Romney was "multiple choice."
At another point, Romney was asked if he ever publicly opposed the Boy Scouts' exclusion of gay members while he served on its executive board.
"I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation," Romney replied.
On a third point, Kennedy accused Romney of harboring the same economic philosophy as Reagan and former President George H.W. Bush.
Romney replied: "I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush; I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush. My positions don't talk about the things you suggest they talk about; this isn't a political issue."
In recent speeches, however, Romney has wrapped himself in Reagan's mantle.
"Now, I wasn't always a Ronald Reagan conservative. Neither was Ronald Reagan, by the way," Romney told conservative activists last weekend.