'Moderate Mitt' Is Back And conservatives don't mind By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Oct 5, 2012 12:17 PM CDT 60 comments Comments Mitt Romney smiles during the debate. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (Newser) – Remember earlier this year when Mitt Romney boasted of being a "severely conservative" governor? Well, he's long gone, and "moderate Mitt" is the one on a roll: David Weigel, Slate: "Here’s the odd thing" about that debate triumph: "He did it by being the Mitt Romney that conservatives always said they didn’t like. It was the first time in 10 years he’d had to debate a Democrat, not some conservative who could run to his right. So he snuck around the president and flanked him from the left." David Brooks, New York Times: Brooks loves the new "authentic" version of the candidate. "Romney did something no other mainstream Republican has had the guts to do. Either out of conviction or political desperation, he broke with Tea Party orthodoxy and began to redefine the Republican identity. And, having taken this step, he’s broken the spell. Conservatives loved it!" Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal: "He's supposed to be extreme, but he was not in the least extreme. He spent his time talking not just to Republicans or conservatives but to the American people, a huge and varied lot." Reid J. Epstein, Ginger Gibson, Politico: Romney "sounded at the first debate a lot like what conservatives always suspected he really is—a Massachusetts moderate who supports some regulations and doesn’t want to cut taxes for the rich. And the right wing loved it."