I’ll be honest, from the outset, Mitt Romney made me nervous. Having studied the Mormon religion and discussed it with actual Mormons, the prospect of a Mormon President seemed a bit dismal to me, even if he was a Republican.
But I got past that. I considered the fact that no President in the past 100 years had ever been someone I could find a substantial amount of common ground on religiously. Plus, I know that Mormons are generally wholesome, moral people. Their family lives are almost unparalleled even among many evangelical denominations. Romney’s case is certainly no different. What I had thought was a disadvantage for Mitt Romney had become an unusual advantage. I guess I had flip-flopped.
The “Mormon Thing”
In addition, I came across a quote from Romney’s former opponent Ted Kennedy having been asked about the potential drawback of Romney’s religion. Kennedy said, “We’ve moved on. That died with my brother Jack.” He was highlighting the fact that many Americans were uneasy about the prospect of a Catholic President in his brother John F. Kennedy. In fact, I think there is some degree of similarity between Catholicism and Mormonism. But that’s certainly a different topic altogether. However, I think Ted Kennedy’s point still remains: with certain exceptions, America is past judging candidates on the basis of how odd their religion is.
With religion aside, let’s look at who Romney is as a leader. His political experience is most notably his time as governor of Massachussetts. In arguably the most Democratic state in America, he was able to balance the budget four years straight without raising taxes. That’s an undeniably impressive task for anyone. It’s not only impressive that he won as a Republican, but that he was successful while in office.
Delving further into Romney’s history, we could look at his experience at Bain Capital, the company responsible for the success of businesses like Staples, Domino’s Pizza, Brookstone, Sealy, and Sports Authority.
We could even examine how Romney took a projected $397 million deficit with the scandal-ridden 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and turned it into a $56 million surplus by the end of the event.
If his experience alone doesn’t qualify Romney’s candidacy for you, let’s look at his stances.
Mitt Romney is pro-life. Now before I hear the words “flip-flop” from you, let’s examine this stance a bit further. In numerous accounts (even back in 1994), Romney has always claimed to be personally pro-life. That means that Romney opposes the action of abortion on a moral level and he always has. However, at one time, he was not opposed to women having the legal right to do so. Basically you could take Giuliani’s current stance and add personal moral opposition, and that’s Romney’s stance prior to 2004. But since then, Romney has admittedly changed his mind.
While many would quickly point to political motive, I’d urge you to examine the history of the acclaimed GOP icon Ronald Reagan, along with former President George H.W. Bush. They both had similar stances to Romney in their political histories regarding abortion. And shall I even mention such Democratic figures as Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Jesse Jackson? I could go on, but I think that would be unnecessary. For whatever reason, the stances of politicians change. Call it a matter of political opportunity or a genuine change of heart. It just happens.
Many have also criticized Romney’s support of homosexuality. But if you look into his record, you’ll notice that Romney advocated an amendment in Massachussetts that would mandate that marriage would exclusively be the union of a man and woman.
He opposed state funding of stem cell research. He passed a successful healthcare plan (quite unusual for most Republicans). He opposed the failed McCain-Kennedy immigration plan. He cut spending. He supported the Bush tax cuts. What more can a conservative want out of him?
A recent LA Times poll has found that Romney is the favorite among Republican party insiders. This doesn’t seem to be all that unusual considering that John McCain has fought against the party all too often and Rudy Giuliani holds views that aren’t in harmony with the party platform.
In March, Romney was found to be the first choice among conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Conservative news magazine NewsMax.com has referred to Romney as “The Reagan Candidate.” That’s quite an endorsement for someone whose conservative credentials have been called into question.
It seems that Romney has been successful in connecting with the conservative base of the Republican party, a key objective in winning the nomination.
If you have watched any of the 2008 Republican Presidential debates so far, you’d most likely be convinced that Romney was the clear winner. And organizations like the Politico, Fox News, and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough have typically agreed. He’s easily the most polished, eloquent candidate in the entire crowd. It’s obvious that he can hold his own in any political discussion.
While many nationwide popularity polls have him below Giuliani and Fred Thompson, he is leading the pack in early primary states, an integral part of his strategy. You see, Romney’s game plan involves planning for victories in the early primary elections to create momentum that will carry him to the nomination. I personally see this as a very wise strategy that will inevitably pay off.
Will he win?
Mitt Romney seems to have every qualification necessary to become the 44th President of the United States. He has the conservative stances that reflect the nature of the Republican party. He’s got that Reaganesque appeal, that optimism that so many people in America reminisce about.
Will Romney prevail in 2008? Only time will tell….