On Thursday, I argued that voters should not support Barack Obama. Understandably, a few commentators challenged me to explain why I believe Americans should vote for Mitt Romney. As a follow-up, I've written this piece in Romney's defense, structured around the same categories and issues I used in arguing against Obama.
First, Romney has an impressive biography. His major accomplishments and experiences that will be relevant to the presidency include: founding Bain Capital, one of the premier private equity firms in the world; running a strong campaign against Ted Kennedy for the Senate in 1994 (though he eventually lost); leading the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee and managing the very successful 2002 Olympic Games;
and becoming governor of Massachusetts in 2003.
These experiences have prepared him to deal, as president, with some of the biggest challenges facing the nation now. Here's how I expect Romney to lead on these major challenges:
1. The state of the economy: Romney is uniquely qualified to manage the recovery of the U.S. economy. His decades-long experience at Bain Capital exposed him to scores of financial and managerial issues. Romney’s reputation in the private sector is pristine, and Bain went on to perform spectacularly after he resigned, due in great part to his counsel and leadership.
Managing a private equity business as vast as Bain is extremely challenging. Every investment requires a monumental effort that includes budgeting, long-term forecasting, managerial assessment, regulatory consideration, calculation of rates of return, and macroeconomic analysis. For years, Romney was involved with these activities on a daily basis for small and large business acquisitions, located domestically and abroad. These experiences gave him great insight into the minds of hard working entrepreneurs. Additionally, Romney gained a comprehensive understanding of the capital markets, which is a fundamental skill for private equity dealmakers. This experience has given Romney the economic expertise necessary to promote job creation.
Romney was similarly successful in managing the 2003 Olympic Games. There are a plethora of financial and managerial issues involved in such a large project. The Olympic Committee raised millions, created an infrastructure to accommodate the Games, and interfaced with many nations that competed.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney proved he could effectively manage a very large government bureaucracy. Leading an entire state gave Romney comprehensive experience that will be so important to him as president. Among the most critical things are the political ramifications of every decision made. Additionally, Romney was very successful managing the state’s very large budget.
2. Partisanship: As governor, Romney faced a harrowing set of circumstances. He was elected as a Republican in a Democratic stronghold and had to find ways to work with a hostile state legislature. His record of fiscal and educational achievements has already been documented in the press, in speeches, and during the debates.
The most important point, however, is that he was able to negotiate compromises. The first order of business for Romney, should he be elected in November, will be to eradicate the toxic partisanship in Washington. Obama’s inability to accomplish this is one of the most important reasons why his administration has been impotent during the past four years.
3. Class warfare: In spite of efforts by his opponents to paint a misleading portrait, conservatives know Romney is not an elitist. True, he is wealthy and has led a privileged life. But, Romney is a religious man who served as a missionary and has a deep respect for other people.
Like the vast majority of conservatives in this country, Romney wants to find better ways to provide aid to those in need. The current system is not effective any longer. And so, if he becomes president, he will craft new programs that will encourage people to work, which will increase their self-esteem and pride as they care for their families with less federal assistance. This isn't unsympathetic to the poor. It's just practical.
4. Broken promises: Everything Romney has set out to accomplish, he has. His only major disappointment was losing to the iconic Ted Kennedy for Senate years ago.
During this campaign season, Romney has promised to do many things to improve America. He is on record and stands ready to be held accountable. This contrasts the current administration, which has blamed others for its shortfalls.
Notably, Romney has stated repeatedly that he will not raise taxes for any class of people. He intends to make the affluent pay its current proportion of taxes even after he reforms the tax code. Some say the numbers do not add up; Romney says they do if large tax benefits are eliminated for high earners. And all this he promises while simultaneously reducing the deficit.
Romney’s position on social issues is conservative, but he has been careful not to tread on civil liberties of any groups while retaining his personal values. In this regard, Romney’s respect tor women should not be questioned, even though his approach has been somewhat awkward.
5. Social Security and Medicare: Romney will immediately start the process to reform these two "third rails" of American politics. As a numbers man, he knows that the figures affiliated with these entitlements do not add up. These programs together have the potential to bankrupt the nation. It will take enormous courage, stamina, patience, and deal-making savvy to deal with these threats to America's fiscal solvency. Romney is prepared to meet this challenge.
6. Leadership: Unlike his opponent, Romney has proven over time that he has the leadership skills to make things happen. He will not do this via fiat — his opponent's preferred method of governing. Romney will demand compromise and eschew unilateral action, as he did so skillfully in Massachusetts.
Not being a career politician and having little foreign relations experience, he must, and will, recruit experienced government professionals who can help him anticipate and respond to the dangers facing America every day.
I want to thank those who challenged me to write this essay. Having done so, I feel even more confident that the current occupant of the White House needs to be replaced. And, Mitt Romney is the right person o do so.