I can admit it: last week was tough. But the CPAC speech, the straw poll and Maine’s results over the weekend confirmed that Mitt is still the front-runner, and for good reason. I seriously can’t imagine Rick Santorum as POTUS. But I can imagine this guy:
And now I think it’s time for us to remember why we’re supporting Mitt, who I can easily imagine as president, and do what we can to convince our fellow Republicans.
Mitt’s speech at CPAC was a home run.
Not much still gives me goosebumps, but Mitt’s speech did (click on the link for the video). He was right on point, and we need him in the White House. No more Clinton-esque surprises with interns. No more Obama-esque surprises trampling religious liberties (and if you think contraception is the last of the controversies with Obamacare you need to think again). It’s all the more clear we need to elect someone with the leadership and vision to keep this country rooted in what made it strong: individual liberty, not government assistance. And that person, unlike our current president and all of the other candidates, needs to have the sheer ability to run the executive branch. Rick Santorum? Hardly. He hasn’t even run a national campaign and is just the latest flavor of the month, who is just now being vetted. The person we need is Mitt Romney.
Mitt’s a natural leader.
Mitt has risen to the top of every endeavor he’s tried. Business (many, many times). Non-profit sector (the Olympics, where they asked him to come and clean it up).
And government (where he was asked to run for governor in Massachusetts against long odds, but he won and worked with a Democratic legislature to effect real, conservative change). He was even asked to be the unpaid “bishop” (like a pastor) of both his local LDS congregation and president of his larger “stake” (the equivalent of a deanery or diocese), to which of course he agreed. He looks the part of a leader. If you’ve not made your mind up but are worried about what you’ve heard in the media, now is your chance to hear him for yourself. Watch Mitt’s CPAC address at the link above and judge for yourself. Want more evidence of leadership skills? Think to yourself what the media says are his two great advantages in this campaign: his “ground game” and money. Having a good “ground game” is code for having organized volunteers who act independently to achieve a goal. Who motivates that? The campaign’s leader. When I visited the 2002 Olympics I had the same impression: the sheer number of volunteers was staggering. All had been motivated by Mitt Romney to give of themselves to make the Olympics work. Mitt’s campaign volunteers are similar: no pay, working on pure inspiration that flows down from Mitt. Fundraising is the same: you need to successfully “sell” your vision to people enough to convince them to part with their hard-earned dollars.
Mitt has done it better than any other candidate. Mitt’s supporters are inspired to give of both time and money because they’re sold on the vision. Come join us!
Speaking of Vision…
To keep the troops motivated you have to communicate effectively where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Again I’ll refer you to Mitt’s speech. But our country also faces a number of problems that I think Mitt’s qualifications and vision uniquely qualify him to solve. The one in particular he’s best suited to deal with is the economy.
Why Mitt is the Only Candidate Suited to Get our Economy Working
Remember 2008? I remember the 2008 race. People knew Mitt had the economic background to solve our problems, but the GOP nominated McCain instead, thinking Iraq was the main issue. But soon after the election, and for the last 36 months, I think Republicans and Democrats would be forced to admit we’ve been pining for someone with the necessary understanding of the economy to get us out of the mess we’re in. We’ve had some better news recently. Unemployment (excluding underemployment and people leaving the workforce) has begun to decline. The economy is showing its resiliency despite our President’s policies. But are we out of the woods? Economists say absolutely not.
So I ask: do we want to nominate someone without the experience necessary on the economy because we finally had a small reduction in unemployment?
No. It would be dangerous.
What’s Mitt’s vision for our economy? Innovation Mr. Negativity, Rick Santorum, ironically accused Mitt “going negative” because Mitt does not have a positive vision. But Remember Mitt’s 59 point economic plan? Rick, who I view as a negative campaigner, has conveniently forgotten Mitt’s detailed economic plan. Where is Rick’s? I had to go to his website to find if he even had one, since he never discusses it. Why would he? It’s not his strong suit by any stretch. And, oddly, it appears to mimic the other GOP candidates. One criticism of Rick’s “plan” vs. Mitt’s that Santorum’s doesn’t focus on innovation. Our tech industry (Apple, IBM, Google, Cisco) resulted from American innovation. Our auto industry is a product of American innovation. And most economists will tell you that’s where America’s future lies. The best paying jobs tend to be in the innovation economy. Detroit is strongest when it out-innovates. Mitt focuses on innovation, the true driver of growth in the American economy. That’s what venture capitalists like Mitt invest in. He knows how it works…
Rick’s roots are in protectionism, not innovation. Mitt’s understanding of the importance of innovation given his experience as an investor and as a manager is a unique qualifier as president. Rick Santorum does not have is any economic credentials, or any real idea how the economy works. He’s made his career in Washington. As a politician his experience in the real world is 2d hand. Mitt Romney’s is not. Rick’s roots are also less economically conservative than you’d think. He doesn’t have the reputation for being an earmarker for no reason: Rick Santorum comes from a background where protecting existing jobs, not innovation, is paramount. His leanings aren’t toward capitalism and its creative destruction to create new, better jobs, for each succeeding generation of growth. His background is in big government and protection of labor (did you know he filibustered a national right to work act?), even if it’s not in their long-term interest. To see this is the wrong approach, consider how many horse and buggy manufacturers are in business today. Would it be a good use of taxpayer money to subsidize those industries? Of course not.
Innovation overtook those industries, much like innovation took over others, like the travel agency industry. Rather than facilitating investment in these new industries to open new jobs, Rick’s instincts are to protect existing jobs at taxpayer expense, and that’s just the wrong answer. We need to focus resources on finding the next generation of industries, and encouraging them to stay here, so there are jobs for everyone. Mitt is the only true economic conservative who wants to promote investment in new, high growth industries.
The economy is still our single largest challenge, bar none. Also, despite some recent good news, our country’s economic problems are still pretty daunting, and unfortunately pretty technical. Besides having the right instincts, our next president needs to have the background, experience and managerial ability to know how to (i) reduce our $15 trillion national debt; (ii) avoid another possible US credit downgrade (won’t happen with $1 trillion more in deficit per the latest Obama budget);
(iii) react to a possible complete meltdown of the European economic system, which very well could, in fact, impact us in the same way the real estate bubble did, and (iv) walk the fine line between cutting the deficit and not cutting so much spending as to cripple the economy, all while working across the aisle with Congress. Our current President talks about promoting investment, reducing taxes and making the environment friendly to business (who, as liberals sometimes forget, are the ones that really employ people and do the real work of ending poverty). But his natural tendencies and the desires of his base to have government solve our problems ironically add to them. Witness his latest budget. It’s being criticized as a partisan maneuver, with no attempt at compromise, unlike what Mitt was able to do in Massachusetts. President Obama wants the “rich” to pay their “fair share.” Who’s rich? You may be surprised that you may be, according to him. And what’s your “fair share?” He gets to decide.
It reminds me of what I heard an old lawyer say: “I’ll let you can decide what the price is if I get to set the terms of payment.” But Obama wants to set both! He gets to decide who’s worthy to have my money, not me, and he gets to decide how much he will take out of “fairness.” That’s called wealth redistribution, and the government is very, very bad at it. It stifles growth by taking money from business and people who would ordinarily invest, keeping a large portion to pay for overhead expenses, then paying a small portion of it to those the government, not you, deems worthy. What this creates is perpetual dependency on government handouts, not innovation.
If the economy is turning, it’s despite, not due to, Obama’s policies. Even if we’re feeling more confident in the economy, we can’t forget that it’s American strength despite, not due to, Obama’s policies that has begun to turn the economy around.
Obama’s policies made it more, not less difficult, for businesses to grow over the past 3 years. It’s common knowledge this is the longest and weakest recovery since the Great Depression. And if we get comfortable with over 8% unemployment and forget whose policies weakened this recovery, what a disaster that will be for our country when the next crisis hits, or if he saddles an already weak economy with more governmental burdens (like full implementation of Obamacare, or whatever else his liberal heart desires). It’d be like going back to the guy who kicked us in the head because our head doesn’t hurt so much anymore. And if we get so comfortable with modest gains that we think it’s a non-issue and nominate Santorum, another inexperienced, idealogical senator, to the highest office in the land, we may very well suffer the same fate when the next economic issues hit. Remember 2008: we will have economic trouble to deal with in the future.
Our national debt is a national security issue. I don’t feel like I can emphasize this enough: our $15 trillion national debt is a national security issue that Rick Santorum, tossed out by his own constituency by 18 points in his last election as an admitted big spender (aka “Mr. Earmark”), has no idea how to handle.
Mitt Romney was in business for 25 years, where you have to balance a budget or you go out of business. He knows what makes life easier for business, so knows how to cut regulations. Profitable companies hire workers. Unprofitable companies don’t, or can’t. Mitt knows how capital raising works, so he knows what stops it and therefore what kills businesses and kills jobs. He’s used to cutting waste. When he says “I like to fire people,” he’s talking about eliminating inefficiency. I want that kind of guy in charge of the government! In business there’s no room for spending too much money on what doesn’t meet your goals. Investors won’t stand for it, they just invest their money elsewhere. That’s just a fact, and no amount of protectionism will change that. The money will flow to what makes more money!
Until we outlaw capitalism, we can fight the forces of the market all we want to prop up inefficient businesses and we will fail. Somehow the government has forgotten the fact of life Mitt had to live with as a CEO: you have a responsibility to the person paying your bills. The government can conveniently forget since they have the ability to tax their “shareholders,” and the only accountability is in periodic elections. Let’s not let this one slip by without replacing our current president with someone who understands this relationship, not someone like Santorum who profited from his time in Washington by cozying up to lobbyists and living off the system.
Rick? No experience. There’s a lot to like about Rick Santorum’s family values. Seven kids, supportive of the family and now pro-life (you may be surprised Rick is a bit of a convert to the pro-life movement). But can Rick Santorum handle these economic issues, which are, in my view, of critical importance? No way. Yes, strong families make for a strong(er) economy, but strong families alone don’t necessarily make a strong economy. The Great Depression occurred during a time the American family was arguably much stronger. So we clearly need both good families and good policy. Mitt is the only candidate with any real capacity to approach economic problems, and likewise has five kids, a great marriage, is supportive of the family and is pro-life.
Electability and Gridlock.
The bottom line for this country is that we need to replace Barack Obama. With his unbending liberal agenda being resisted by Republicans in Congress, nothing is being done in Washington. The Democrats haven’t proposed a budget for well over 1,000 days. Each new bill is a stop-gap measure meant to buy enough goodwill with the American people to get to the 2012 election, where Obama will paint the Congress as obstructionist so he can try to get more Democrats elected to be able to more fully pursue his agenda. Unless we elect someone new, and, ideally, get a majority in the Senate as well, the GOP will be forced to either accept Obama’s agenda or continue to obstruct. If that happens, our country may not survive that gridlock. So how can we be sure we defeat Obama? Mitt is still the only candidate who can do it. Sure, in three relatively low turnout races last week Rick came out victorious. But that’s a “pre-vet” vote. Rick has his own issues with electability.
Rick Santorum is very, very socially conservative, to the point he will not win many independents. As I’ve said before, the right will vote for the Republican, the left for the Democrat, and it’s the middle that will decide who wins. Rick does not appeal to the middle. He’s also an inexperienced ex-Senator who lost his last election by 18 points because his own swing state of Pennsylvania didn’t want him anymore, and there was a reason: he’s a big government spender who’s not fiscally conservative, admitting at one point he was “no longer a deficit hawk.” In some ways he’s the type of Republican that people rejected when they elected Obama in hopes of “Change.”
Rick is also a big spender with cozy relationships with lobbyists who seems to be using his position in government to get ahead financially. And he’s perceived as an angry man. It’s just a matter of time before the general public understands: Rick Santorum has his own baggage both fiscally and ideologically, cannot win, and he should not be our nominee in any event. Like Gingrich before him, we can’t discover his problems in October. We need to closely scrutinize him now.
Rick’s Criticisms of Mitt as “Not Conservative Enough” Fail.
Despite cultivating a “Richie Cunningham” image, Rick’s been on his own negative warpath about Mitt for a while. His main argument is that Mitt isn’t conservative enough and the GOP shouldn’t “settle” for someone that doesn’t represent their values. Mitt’s “not conservative enough?” I can’t believe this one. In 2008 he was viewed as too conservative. In running against Ted Kennedy, he was accused of being a closet right-wing nut. So now he’s not conservative? Let’s go down the list of allegations:
a. Romneycare. Santorum now hates Romneycare. Never mind he endorsed Mitt in 2008, post-Romneycare. Never mind Santorum endorsed Arlen Specter, the person who cast the deciding vote for Obamacare. Never mind that, as some remember, Romneycare was hailed at the time of its passing as a conservative triumph. Rick’s flip-flopped on this issue, unlike Mitt. Mitt’s program required freeloaders in the Massachusetts system to pay their own way vs. requiring the government to pay for them. Now, admittedly there were things in there that Mitt didn’t want, and that he got overruled on by his legislature. Should this model be adopted by every state? No. Should it have been adopted by Massachusetts? Clearly their call. Should it be adopted by the Federal government? Absolutely not. One reason is, as Mitt has recognized, the variety of interests among religious and other groups nationwide simply does not permit a workable one-size-fits-all plan, as we’ve seen recently. If states want to address access to health care, it should be left to the states. And Mitt’s was, as all good conservatives know, a state plan, not a federal plan. Each state can adopt what it wants, and in liberal Massachusetts, they wanted it. Other states don’t, but they have their own idiosyncrasies (I live in California, I know). Rick claims the GOP gives away this issue to Obama in the fall if we nominate Mitt. Nonsense. No one is in as good a position to debate Obama is as Mitt: he knows it and knows a federal system won’t work. Santorum is a flip-flopper on this issue with no credibility.
b. Life. Mitt’s addressed this many times, but I will again. Mitt grew up pro-choice due to some family experiences and an active pro-choice mother. But that changed a number of years ago when as governor of Massachusetts a bill came to his desk regarding use of human embryos. To make a decision about what was right, he had both sides present their arguments, and after hearing both sides, he realized life had to be protected. So he’s a convert to the pro-life movement, but he’s a strong one. Pro-life organizations in Massachusetts say Mitt was not only a reliable pro-life leader, but he was in the trenches with them fighting for life. We have nothing to worry about in Mitt’s record to indicate he will be anything but a staunchly pro-life president, as Reagan was after his conversion. That includes naming nominees for the Supreme Court that are strict constructionists.
As I alluded to above, Rick Santorum is also a convert to the pro-life movement. See this copy of the Pittsburgh Press from the time of Rick’s first run for the Senate citing Rick’s statement that his evolution to pro-life involved “a lot of soul searching” (interestingly he ran a negative campaign then, too.) All converts to the pro-life camp are welcome, but to say Mitt is less committed to pro-life positions than Rick is just not accurate. See also this 2006 article at the American Prospect, which, among other things, discusses Rick’s changes to get to where he is on abortion.
Santorum the conservative social critic is merely the latest incarnation of a political survivor. His views on abortion were once somewhere between pro-choice and ambivalent, and in 1990 campaign literature he noted that he had “returned to my Church after a period of absence.” Santorum has also written that his view on abortion was influenced by his 1988 marriage to then-law student Karen Garver. Last year, the Philadelphia City Paper revealed that when Garver met Santorum, she had been living with the founder of Pittsburgh’s first abortion clinic.
The point of bringing this up isn’t to criticize Rick for a change of heart in the right direction, but to make clear: their stance on abortion is not a distinguishing factor in the “conservativeness” of Mitt vs. Rick. If one doubts the genuineness of one’s conversion, the genuineness of other’s should also be in question.
c. Gun control. Mitt’s position is that no new gun laws are needed. As a resident of California, with its very restrictive laws, I tend to agree. I’ve seen how silly California’s gun control laws are. It’s not the people that pay attention to the legal restrictions on firearm ownership that are the problem, it’s those that ignore those laws. So placing burdens on law abiding citizens’ gun ownership has very little utility in preventing violence.
d. Religious freedom. As a member of a much persecuted religion, I can’t imagine someone more ready than Mitt to protect religious freedoms. Rick may have had some angry Catholic voters out to vote for him Tuesday, and I can understand, but you don’t need a Catholic or an evangelical to fight for freedom of religion. In fact, someone in the minority is more likely to be sensitive to protecting everyone’s freedom. As an example, Mitt stood with Catholic organizations to ensure their religious liberty when he inherited as governor laws that would have required them to act in violation of their conscience. There’s no inherent weakness in Mitt or strength in Rick in preserving religious liberty, particularly against the encroachment of Obamacare, which again Mitt vows to repeal day one.
e. Gay marriage. Mitt has been consistent in his basic view that mistreatment of gays and lesbians is not acceptable. But what’s changed around him, and many others, is the thought that redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships is a function of civil rights. Mitt’s stand has been against gay marriage since this issue arose. He was on the front lines of this issue in Massachusetts when its Supreme Court ruled gay marriage not only legal, but required. Mitt tried, albeit unsuccessfully (one vote short in the legislature I believe), to amend the Massachusetts constitution to make clear marriage is between a man and a woman. Not conservative enough? Mitt has been taking stands consistent with traditional marriage since before California’s Proposition 8, all the while otherwise respecting the rights of gays and lesbians to be protected from economic and other forms of discrimination.
Mitt is the Full Spectrum Conservative.
Are there other areas of criticism? I don’t think so. Mitt’s a fiscal conservative, and no one challenges that. Interestingly that’s one of Santorum’s main problems. Who’s the real “full spectrum conservative,” family values and all? It’s Mitt Romney.
There’s no doubt in my mind, particularly after hearing Mitt’s CPAC speech, that Mitt is the only candidate truly qualified to be president. He’s a leader. He’s demonstrated that in this campaign cycle, in business and the Olympics. He’s the only candidate, Republican or Democrat, with real economic experience, the knowledge of what creates jobs and the technical and managerial ability to run the country and fix our economy. He has experience working across the aisle. He’s the only Republican likely to be able to bridge the divide and gain the support of independents. Frankly, he’s our only hope of defeating Obama, and Santorum’s arguments that Mitt is somehow deficient just don’t hold water. It’s Rick’s lack of experience and history as a Senator that give me much more pause. Mitt can beat Obama. Mitt can fix the economy. Mitt will hold true to conservative principles (all of them). That’s why I support Mitt Romney for President.
For a newcomer to our camp that recently reached the same conclusions I have, you may want to go to this conservative blog link. I don’t agree with everything in this person’s post, but like Mitt and Rick on life issues, I’m happy to welcome someone to the fold. The author goes through their analysis of all of the candidates, a number of which she supported in her anyone but Mitt days. But she makes clear it’s time to pick our real nominee. It’s not Santorum. It’s not Gingrich. It’s not Paul. It’s Mitt, the one we knew should be the nominee the whole time and now needs us to support him so we can all meet our broader goal: retaking the White House so we can reverse the damage done in the last 3+ years.