Romney doesn't go all Tea Party at South Carolina Forum

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Although Perry was absent from the forum on Monday (his day job mandated that he return to Texas to deal with that state's wildfire crises), he has already made quite an impression on the voters of South Carolina, where he leads Romney by double digits (31-20 percent), according to a poll taken a week ago (and Romney trails Perry by an even bigger margin nationally, according to a brand new WSJ-NBC News poll).

Having said all of that, I couldn't escape the feeling watching Romney on Monday that for the first time, he truly seemed to come off as "presidential." By that I'm referring specifically to his response about how he would make a big decision inside the White House.

He said he'd read all the data and analysis that would come across his desk. Then he'd consult with his wife. Then he'd get on his knees, "I'm a person of faith and look for inspiration." He then said when visiting the White House once, George W. Bush showed him a room of paintings of other presidents who had to make tough decisions. It didn't sound scary.

Romney also showed that he wasn't as extreme right as his candidates when he said that some regulations are needed on business and on banks (i.e. "Dodd-Frank" the bill that regulates the financial system that GOP candidates immediately denounce without acknowledging the need for some type of regulation).

"Do we need financial regulations? Of course," Romney said, before going on about excessive those regulations have gone in the past few years.

Romney said he would repeal the Community Reinvestment Act, though he added it was Republicans as well as Democrats who were responsible for advocating home ownership for people who weren't financially able to handle some mortgages.

“It’s not that we don’t want any regulation. We don’t want to tell the world Republicans are against all regulation,” he said. “Regulation is necessary to make a free market work."

Romney did not go as far as the other candidates at the forum when asked if he would support using an interpretation of the 14th Amendment to allow for a ban on abortion, Romney reiterated his support for overturning Roe v. Wade, but said using the 14th Amendment in that manner was not a good idea.

“Could that happen in this country? Could there be circumstances? I think it’s reasonable that something of that nature might happen someday, but that’s not something I would precipitate,” he said. “I believe that we must be a nation of laws, and I believe in supporting the Constitution as I understand it, but I’m not looking to create a constitutional crisis.”

Mitt Romney is scheduled to present his economic plan Tuesday, which he says will consist of 59 specific proposals - including 10 actions he'll take on his first day in office - to turn around the country's faltering economy.

It was always part of his game plan to come out immediately after Labor Day to give this speech - but what wasn't originally scheduled was his detour into Columbia, South Carolina on Monday, where he went to grovel speak at the Palmetto Freedom Forum, the event organized by one of the more influential national Tea Party leaders, South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint.

Since this campaign started in earnest earlier this year, Romney has stood out as the front-runner, with only the Tea Party standing in his way of the nomination. But that's a group, not a candidate, which is why Mitt's world has been rocked somewhat since Rick Perry became the embodiment of those Tea Party dreams last month when he entered the VOP contest.

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