Romney wants to avoid flip-flopper label at all costs 

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney drew headlines on Friday on a visit to Iowa in which he fully embraced ethanol subsidies.

“I support the subsidy of ethanol,” he told an Iowa voter, the Wall Street Journal reported. “I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.”

The move stood in stark contrast to his rival Tim Pawlenty, who days earlier announced his candidacy in Iowa and called for the phasing out of ethanol subsidies.

The news would seem to challenge conventional wisdom that says Pawlenty is going to compete hard in Iowa and Romney is going to focus on winning New Hampshire -- if that were true, wouldn't it make sense for Romney to take the opposite position?

But there's another wrinkle. During his 2008 campaign, Romney also endorsed ethanol subsidies.

As we've seen with his refusal to renounce his Massachusetts health care plan, Romney is eager to avoid the "flip flopper" label that dogged him last time, and he's willing to stick with positions that will open him up to attacks. Of course, this doesn't get him off the hook from all of the shifts in his positions in his last campaign, but it does mean that he doesn't want to do anything to reinforce the perception that he's inauthentic.

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