Romney started off the interview very well. The beginning of the Russert grilling was focused exclusively on Religion. Romney did a very good job of setting a context of religious people and their interaction with Government. Romney addressed the “Freedom requires Religion” argument well by suggesting that freedom require moral individuals. It was a bit of a stretch from what he said before, but it was a dialog that I thought was appropriate.
Next on to Abortion. Here is where the flip flops began. Romney became very uncomfortable, and began using very complex descriptions to talk his way out of changing his mind. His policy beliefs on Stem cell were somewhat more straightforward.
Next, gun control, a careful bit of dancing and spin by Romney. He did a better job of dancing, but was ultimately uncomfortable.
Next on to illegal immigration. Russert brought up some statements by Romney showing strongly implied support for the Bush / McCain comprehensive immigration reform proposals. Romney began dancing away from his support of this position. Instead of focusing on his exact beliefs and policy decisions on illegal immigration he started to focus on employment verification. That is all good and dandy, but it is very wishy washy.
Towards the end of the interview Russert pulled out the full flip flop smack down. Abortion, gay rights, health care, gun rights, ect. Russert asked a very telling question: Would you be elected Governor of Massachusetts with your policy beliefs today? We all know damn well that the answer is a huge NO!
Ultimately Romney did not end as strong as he started. I think the net effect of this interview is zero.