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The Republicans are so desperate to win that even staunch conservatives and Tea Party members who railed against any modification in avoiding budget cuts, who are calling for stringent measures, including eliminating entitlement programs, have largely kept silent.

They are gambling that the real Mitt Romney is the one who fought to prove his conservative bona fides during the primaries and not the more moderate Romney who has been out on the campaign stump.

They hope no one is paying close attention to the lack of details in Romney's constantly shifting plan and that he can squeak by in a close race without being pinned down.

They are hoping, if they win, that the nation will have elected a strong conservative Romney.

But no one can be sure.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday that though he is still a Republican, he would endorse President Obama again.

"I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012," Powell told "CBS This Morning."

Powell said Romney's tax plan and inconsistencies in his policy statements have contributed to his decision to stick with Obama.

"The governor who was at the debate Monday night was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier, " Powell said, noting that getting a handle on Romney's positions on the economy and foreign policy was the issue.

"Well it's hard to fix it, I mean, it's a moving target. One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal. Same thing in Iraq and on almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Gov. Romney agreed with President Obama, with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign," Powell said.

And certainly Romney's flip-flopping has gotten notice.

The Salt Lake Tribune said it was the confusion over which Romney would assume the White House that gave its editorial board pause and caused it to throw its endorsement to Obama.

Romney's political and Mormon background, his pro-business outlook and "adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state" made him an attractive candidate.

"But it was Romney's singular role in rescuing Utah's organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record, that make him the Beehive State's favorite adopted son," The Tribune said.

But Romney's shifting positions created a real quandary.

"Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party's shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party's radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: "Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?"

"The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney's next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear."

Romney told the Des Moines Register in an interview that he would not pursue abortion-related legislation if elected president. During the primaries he said he would sign a bill banning all abortion. He also has said during the general campaign that he supports banning abortion except in the cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Before 2007, he was pro-choice.

The Republican candidate had said he would reduce the federal deficit by cutting back on entitlements and that nothing was off the table, not even Social Security or Medicare or popular tax breaks, such as mortgage interest and charitable deductions.

But Romney has announced no plans to cut any of the 10 largest individual tax deductions to balance the budget, although they represent about $842 billion annually.

How he will pay for all this remains a mystery since Romney said he would keep the Bush tax cuts and reduces tax rates by 20 percent across the board while increasing defense spending.

And where is the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party on this shift?


So with less than two weeks before Election Day, who the real Mitt Romney is is anyone's guess.

And the race is this close?


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