Liberal firebrand Barney Frank attacks "myth Romney"

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina Thu Sep 6, 2012 7:03pm EDT

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) waves after addressing the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) waves after addressing the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Mitt Romney plans to undo needed reforms for the financial sector, Representative Barney Frank told the Democratic convention Thursday night in a speech that served as curtain call for the liberal firebrand who leaves Congress in January.

As the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank co-authored the 2010 financial reform bill, a bugbear for presidential challenger Romney and his Republican Party.

Frank attacked Romney for opposing the landmark legislation.

"Every mistake the Republicans made to bring us into trouble, to resist our getting out of trouble, and to keep us from getting into trouble again, Mitt Romney supports," Frank said.

Drawing on their shared experience in Massachusetts, where Romney was governor, Frank painted a contrast between what "myth Romney" promised and what Mitt Romney delivered.

"Under Mitt Romney, we got no help," Frank claimed.

In November, Frank announced that he would retire from his seat, having served in Congress since 1981. Joseph P. Kennedy, who introduced a convention video tribute to his late uncle, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, is running to replace Frank.

Known for his caustic wit and penchant for dressing down rivals, Frank has gotten off enough choice lines during his three decades in office to fill a collection of quotations, published under the title "Frank Talk."

For the first time, the Democrats embraced marriage equality in their party platform this year. Frank, the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives, married partner Jim Ready over the summer in a ceremony attended by members of Congress and Massachusetts state office holders.

Parting from his prepared remarks, which did not mention social issues, Frank opened his speech by asking, "Why it is that so many Republicans are afraid that my marriage will threaten theirs?"

Since his time as a candidate for U.S. Senate in 1994, Romney has shifted to the right and now courts his party's conservative wing when it comes to gay rights, Frank said.

"There was the Romney who was going to be better on gay rights than Ted Kennedy. Now there's the Romney that checks with Rick Santorum on that issue," Frank said.

A lightning rod for the right, Frank received a hero's welcome in Charlotte. On Tuesday night, he was stopped every few feet by delegates as he walked through the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis said Frank was more interested in spelling out his differences with Romney than taking a curtain call after nearly half a century in politics.

"I don't think he's interested in a valedictory," Dukakis said. "He knows what is going to happen to his handiwork if these guys take over."

(Editing by Edward Tobin and Doina Chiacu)

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