. . . not because I'm not in total agreement with Romney being the most Reaganesque candidate in the field (he's that by a long shot), but because it's seemed nearly all media sources have been overwhelmingly and unfairly harsh to Romney for several months (trying to stifle a Romney candidacy before it gets off the ground.)
This article is definitely "a keeper." It's a very informative read and pretty spot on (even though it got wrong the issue that Romney "used to be against a Federal Marriage Amendment and now he's for it". I've already e-mailed the author (pointing him to my previous blog entry on the issue here) and he thanked me for the input. I have a copy of the PDF should anyone deeply desire that.
Some of the highlights:
1) Crisis leadership is where Romney really shines
Gay's daughter, when they found her in the basement of that home, was shivering through detox after a massive dose of ecstasy. Doctors later told Gay that he was indeed fortunate - his daughter probably would not have lasted another day.
"It was the most amazing thing, and I'll never forget this to the day I die," Gay says, adding of Romney's intervention, "I'm not sure we would have gotten her back without him."
It is often during a crisis that we gain insight into a person's real character. Romney's action demonstrated leadership, loyalty, and selflessness - attributes that Americans just might like to see in a president of the United States.
2) The "feel good" candidate
People say that Mitt Romney lights up a room. But there are all kinds of ways to light up a room - fluorescent, neon, sunlight, strobe. Romney alternates between sparkle and a warm, steady glow. He is not in your face. He is low-key, self-assured, and self-contained.
That could be a metaphor for Romney's candidacy. When the subject of the 2008 presidential election comes up, Republicans talk about the prospects of the obvious front-runners, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But they often end the conversation by saying, "You know, I really like Mitt Romney."
3) Can you be 60 and still "Hot?"
The fact that Massachusetts, where only 13 percent of registered voters are Republicans, could elect Romney governor by a five-point margin (50 percent versus 45 percent for his Democratic opponent) underscores his popularity among Republicans and Democrats alike.
In the coming months, Americans will be focusing on the candidates - and most of their initial impressions will be based on how the candidates come across on TV. In this media-driven age, Romney begins with a decisive advantage.
First, he has sensational good looks. People magazine named him one of the 50 most beautiful people in America. Standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Romney has jet-black hair, graying naturally at the temples. Women - who will play a critical role in this coming election - have a word for him: hot.
4) Eloquence counts (especially in 2008):
Romney speaks with the effortless delivery of the best news anchors, making the 60-year-old "the un-Bush," according to Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
5) Romney's don't "rest on laurels"
The Romneys lived in the upscale suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where Mitt attended the private Cranbrook School. He spent summers with his family in a vacation home on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada.
However, if the family was financially set, it had little impact on Mitt's upbringing. Like most other kids, he had summer jobs. His sister Jane, an actress in Beverly Hills, remembers that she was allowed to buy only one new dress a year.
"I always hated the word 'privileged' and I never thought we were," she says. "My dad grew up with nothing. His father went bankrupt twice when my father was a kid."
6) Yet another Romney "Turnaround"
Because of these and other successful investments, Bain Capital now manages $40 billion.
By 1990, Bain & Co., the mother ship, was in dire straits because of excess debt. Founder William Bain asked Romney to return to the company as interim CEO to straighten things out.
Romney tightened expenses, renegotiated loans, and improved morale. He returned the company to profitability within a year before returning to lead Bain Capital.
7) Gave Teddy K. the closest race of his career
In 1994, Romney decided to run for the Senate against Democrat Ted Kennedy. It was an audacious move, and Romney spent $6.1 million of his own money on the campaign. He felt liberal social programs of the 1960s and 1970s had created a permanent underclass and fostered poverty rather than eliminating it.
8) Non-discriminatory protection of the traditional family
But in 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled that marriage in the commonwealth would no longer be limited to unions between men and women, Romney pushed for an amendment to the state constitution that would outlaw gay marriage.
In a recent interview in his corner office at his campaign headquarters, Romney sticks by his position condemning discrimination against gays and lesbians.
"I can tell you this, which is I believe gay individuals should enjoy tolerance and respect," Romney says. "They should have equal opportunities in housing and employment. We shouldn't discriminate against people based upon their sexual preference or orientation."
Romney's position is the same one staked out by President Bush.
"At the same time, I believe that marriage should be reserved for a relationship between one man and one woman. For me, that's not a matter of discrimination," Romney adds.
He also supports Bush's effort to ban gay marriage by an amendment to the U.S. Constitution - which separates him from Giuliani and McCain, who oppose such a change.
9) Not JUST good on judicial philosophy . . . but a pro-life record in liberals-ville is something to be proud of.
"He feels passionately that the value of human life begins at conception," says South Carolina state Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican who supports Romney. "The idea that he might have changed his mind [on Roe v. Wade] is very appealing to me, because we're not going to win that debate unless people change their minds and think it through."
Romney has vetoed bills that authorized embryo farming, therapeutic cloning, and access to emergency contraception without parental consent. He is a critic of liberal judges who legislate from the bench, and he says he would like to see the court return the abortion issue to the people to decide.
"President Bush has done a fine job in bringing to the Supreme Court Justice [John] Roberts and Justice [Sam] Alito," Romney says. "Those are exactly the kind of individuals you'd hope would come to the bench."
With input from the Heritage Foundation, Romney came up with a way to provide universal health insurance by requiring that everyone buy coverage, just as drivers are required to buy car insurance. If they don't, they lose their personal exemption on their state income taxes and part of their state tax refund. The idea was that in a reformed marketplace, everyone has the responsibility to have health insurance - no more free riders.
For those who cannot afford coverage, Romney cobbled together funds from Medicaid and the state's free-care pool to make sure everyone is covered.
By merging individual and group plans, Romney covered more healthy individuals, lowering prices . . .
Romney likes to contrast his health-care plan with the one proposed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. "My plan is based on personal responsibility and allowing the free market to work in a more effective manner," he says. "Her approach was to build a large government bureaucracy and provide more controls to help the health-care system work."
He adds with a smile: "Perhaps the biggest difference between our two plans was that mine got passed, and hers didn't."
States such as Iowa, California, and New Jersey are looking into adopting the Massachusetts approach, and Bush is pushing other states to look into it. To conservatives who bristle at the idea of an imposed plan, Romney says, "The key factor that some of my libertarian friends forget is that today, everybody who doesn't have insurance is getting free coverage from government."
11) This is what he ran on . . . this is what he delivered.
Romney's bottom line in Massachusetts: He erased the budget deficit he inherited when he took over, just as he'd done with the Olympics.
When Romney left office on Jan. 4, 2006, the Bay State had a balanced budget plus a "rainy day fund" - all without ever raising taxes.
12) I can't stop adding quotes . . . make me stop.
On Oct. 26, 2006, Romney met with 15 evangelical leaders at his home in Belmont. The meeting was set up by Mark DeMoss, son of the late billionaire Arthur DeMoss. A public relations consultant, DeMoss represents many evangelicals. The attendees included Gary Bauer, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, and the pastors from several evangelical megachurches, such as Paula White of Without Walls International Church, based in Tampa, Fla.
"Our discussion was open and frank," says Richard Land, who heads the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"Evangelicals know that they're not electing a theologian in chief, but a commander in chief. If they agree with Romney on social issues, his Mormonism won't be a hindrance, especially if he's the only viable social conservative in the mix," he says.
Says Falwell: "There's no question that there are strong feelings about Mormonism. But we're not electing a Sunday school teacher, we're electing a president. I do not believe [Romney's] church affiliation will hinder his being a viable candidate among evangelicals." Mormons are fiscally and socially conservative, and 95 percent of them voted for Bush in the last election.
12) The right responses:
"The term 'Christian' means different things to different people," Romney says. "And so I don't try and describe my faith in terms of categories. Instead I tell them what I believe. And I believe in God. I believe in marriage. I believe in family. I believe in helping people, in service and compassion. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and is my savior.
"But there are people of other faiths who don't believe that, and that's of course their right. But I don't try and describe my faith other than in terms of the fact that it has made me a better person than I would have been, and it has made my kids better than they would have been."
Of course, any religious beliefs sound strange to those who are not familiar with them. What matters most, Romney argues, is not his religious beliefs but his agenda for America.
In the make-or-break caucus state of Iowa, a majority of Republican county chairmen who responded to queries from Roll Call in January said the one presidential candidate who is exciting the base is Romney.
Romney's fans range from Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, to Ann Coulter, to talk-show host Laura Ingraham. While governor of Florida, Jeb Bush gave his blessing to key staffers to migrate to the Romney camp.
Grover Norquist notes that Romney was the first major candidate to sign Americans for Tax Reform's pledge to oppose any effort to raise marginal income tax rates. Norquist says Romney is moving to "place himself dead center of the Reagan coalition." If he succeeds, Norquist says,"He will be the strongest candidate for the nomination."
When asked which Republican candidate she fears the most, Donna Brazile - who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign - replies, "Mitt Romney." Asked whether Romney's religion will hurt him, Ted Kennedy said recently, "The answer is no. We've moved on. That died with my brother Jack."
Romney is "a spectacular candidate," says Republican strategist Mary Matalin, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. "He is methodical, and he's definitely got the happy warrior thing. He's substantive, and he's got executive skills. And he's 21st century, too." Romney's Mormon religion will turn out to be a plus, she says, because people "like that have a source of strength."
Like I said . . . this was an informative piece and one that you'll never see from the AP, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, or LA Times . . . they save that space for pumping up Obama and Clinton or cutting down conservative Republican competitors.