Yesterday, a story made the rounds of Twitter and Google+ (and probably Facebook as well but I personally didn’t see it there) that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney “dissed” amateur radio in an interview. Here is what Romney said that raised the ire of amateur radio operators:
Host and moderator Natalie Jacobson asked an increasingly-agitated Governor Romney questions about communications interoperability, and communication without commercial power. Romney was next asked by Jacobson, “…so does it come down to ham radio?…”
The Governor replied in a disgusted tone, “No, we don’t need to deal with ham radio operators…”
The only problem is that I don’t think some of those posting this article noticed that it was an old article. It is 6 years old. It’s datelined 11/16/2005 and clearly refers to Romney as the current Governor of Massachusetts, which he no longer is. It turns out that Romney changed his mind after this interview and no longer holds the same view.
The first thought I had was not to get angry about his statement, it was to wonder if he still held the position that “we don’t need to deal with ham radio operators.” The article mentions actions that ARRL, ARES, and RACES officials amongst other such as National Weather Service and Salvation Army officials took afterwards to educate Romney on just what amateur radio could do. Clearly there was the opportunity for Romney change his mind.
Yesterday afternoon, I traded tweets with Brian Arsenault, N1FIY. Brian was involved in the effort to inform Romney and I asked him if he knew whether or not the incident changed Romney’s mind about the usefulness of amateur radio during emergencies:
@KF4LMT I agree. When I read it, I said ‘I was part of the ARRL Field Org that sent him a letter. Did he do it again?’ Nope
@N1FIY Since you have personal knowledge, you might be able to answer my question – Did he change his mind?
@KF4LMT Yes. About 2 weeks after that interview, he said his eyes were opened to recent events where hams proved vital…
Because it was an old article, I thought it was important to go beyond the initial reporting to see what his current position prior to using the information to decide who or who not to vote for. Romney indeed changed his mind. I’m glad that Brian brought up his involvement because it gave me the opportunity to find out. Everyone is free to make their own judgments but this is not an issue that we as hams still need to hold against Romney when we decide whether or not to vote for him.