A photo of one of the ACLU's vans outside of the Capitol in Washington. (ACLU )
Once upon a time, a governor of Massachusetts ran for president, proudly proclaiming that he was "a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union."
Michael Dukakis badly lost that 1988 race to George H.W. Bush, who gleefully seized on his opponent's ACLU membership. The ACLU card may have been the least of Dukakis' problems, but ... it didn't help.
Now the ACLU has begun a modest campaign to persuade Mitt Romney that he really ought to get a card. The organization announced Tuesday that it had placed billboard trucks outside each of Romney's three homes (in Boston, Wolfeboro, N.H., and La Jolla) and in Washington, proclaiming: "Governor Romney, your membership card is waiting. Come back home to civil liberties."
The gist of the campaign is that Romney once held views in line with the ACLU's on three core issues: rights for gays and lesbians, abortion and immigration. "Since then, his views have changed dramatically," the organization said in its announcement.
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Further tweaking Romney -- and strangely paying homage to conservative icon Barry Goldwater -- ACLU executive director Anthony Romero proclaimed: "In his heart, he knows we're right. Normally, candidates move forward on civil liberties issues; Mitt Romney moved backwards. We want Romney to see the ACLU's call for him to come home to civil liberties, wherever that may be."
Goldwater's 1964 campaign slogan was, "In your heart, you know he's right." It worked about as well as Dukakis' ACLU card.