As Romney shows, politics makes strange bedfellows

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Increasing taxes, capping greenhouse gasses, legalizing gay marriage, and backing Hillary Clinton for president -- these are the recent political and policy priorities of Mitt Romney's very biggest financial backers.

While Romney's Florida victory spurs talk of inevitability, exit polls show him still struggling among conservatives and Tea Partiers. Campaign finance reports filed this week reveal a gulf between the GOP base and Romney's funding base.

Financiers Julian Robertson, Paul Singer, and Miguel Fernandez all gave $1 million to Romney's shadow campaign -- Restore Our Future, the super-PAC supporting Mitt Romney and run by former Romney aides.

Robertson, who ran the successful Tiger Management private equity firm, was also a Romney backer four years ago. He has described Romney as being as "intellectually, morally and physically fit to be president more than anybody I've ever known." In November, Robertson gave a million dollars to Restore our Future.

Robertson is a deficit hawk, but his policy agenda is hardly ripped from the GOP platform. He favors tax increases, especially on the wealthy, as a way of shrinking the deficit. In a 2009 CNBC interview, Robertson called George W. Bush's post-9/11 tax cuts "awful," and criticized Obama for not raising taxes.

Robertson also has a big-government environmentalist streak. He sits on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund, and he has hired K Street lobbyists (including now-Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.) to advance the Warner-Lieberman bill that would have capped industrial emissions of greenhouse gasses -- in effect a tax on burning coal and oil.

Hedge fund millionaire Paul Singer also gave Romney's super-PAC $1 million in November. Singer's Elliot Management is politically out of step with its industry: In the 2008 and 2010 elections, while the rest of the industry was giving about 68 percent of its money to Democrats, Singer's firm was giving about 98 percent to Republicans.

Singer spent a good part of 2011 rallying other Republican financial moguls in an attempt to recruit New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to run for president.

But Singer's biggest cause in 2011 was not partisan -- he spent $1 million lobbying to legalize gay marriage in New York state. That puts Singer not only far to the left of the GOP base and Romney, but also to the left of President Obama, who publicly opposes gay marriage. Singer's son married a man in Massachusetts.

Miguel Fernandez of Miami has succeeded in health-care investing in recent years, and last July he gave $1 million to Restore Our Future ---half from his own pocket, and half from an account of his called MBF Family Investments.

While Romney publicly denies he's a liberal Republican, he apparently hasn't convinced Fernandez of this. Before giving $1 million to Romney's super-PAC, Fernandez split much of his money between Democrats and liberal Republicans who faced conservative opponents.

Rudy Giuliani was Fernandez's guy in the 2008 GOP primary election, Federal Election Commission records show. Then in the 2010 cycle, Fernandez spent some money against the Tea Party: When conservative Marco Rubio announced in 2009 he was running against liberal Republican Gov. Charlie Crist for Florida's open Senate seat, Fernandez gave the maximum to Crist. Fernandez also gave to infamous porker and bailout champion Bob Bennett in early 2010 as Bennett faced a Tea Party challenge from conservative Mike Lee.

Fernandez is mostly on the Republican team, and he eventually funded Rubio and John McCain in their general elections, but he has also funded his share of Democrats, including the presidential bids of Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson and the Senate runs of Bob Menendez (N.J.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Bob Graham (Fla.) and Mark Warner (Va.).

The fourth and final $1 million donor to Romney's super-PAC is almost the poster boy for Big Republican Money, Texas homebuilder Bob Perry. Perry famously helped bankroll the counterattack against John Kerry's 2004 attempt to run on his Vietnam War record, and was a big Rick Perry (no relation) backer for years.

Unlike Robertson, Singer, and Fernandez, there's little in Bob Perry's record to turn off the conservative base. He funds conservative Republicans more than moderate ones, and he has given $7 million to the Karl Rove-affiliated super-PAC, American Crossroads, which hasn't taken sides in the primary but will back the eventual GOP nominee.

Robertson's million-dollar donation to Romney doesn't mean Mitt is a cap-and-trader or a tax-increaser. Singer's million-dollar check doesn't suggest Mitt is pro-gay-marriage. And Fernandez's million doesn't make Mitt a Charlie Crist.

But it's revealing that these are Romney's biggest donors. At the very least, it highlights the difference between the GOP's electoral base and its money base.

Timothy P.Carney, The Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Monday and Thursday, and his stories and blog posts appear on washingtonexaminer.com.

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