With this post, I continue a short series consisting of my analyses of the Republican candidates for the nomination for President. To recap, I’m limiting my discussions to three candidates: Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry. The structure of this series consists of a collection of posts concerning what I don’t like about the candidates and then a series of what I do like about them. I’ll conclude with my endorsement of a single candidate. At this point I’m in the series of what I like, and here I’ll talk about what I like about Governor Mitt Romney.
Experience: Governor Romney is one of the few candidates in this field who has actual business experience. He’s run businesses, and he’s met payroll. With Bain Capital, Romney expanded the company’s size and finances with successful leveraged buyouts, turning around those companies and making them successful (their impending financial failure making them ripe targets for such acquisitions), and then selling them on the open market. On criticism that such buyouts and resales often cost jobs, he has responded, correctly, that the surviving companies were sounder and were successful—without Bain’s corrections, the companies would have failed entirely, and all of the employees would have lost their jobs. His experience is broad, too: he’s successfully run nonprofits. He became CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee in the wake of corruption allegations in the Salt Lake Olympic Committee and of a financial shortfall for those winter games that threatened their removal to another venue. He turned around the situation and made the 2002 Winter Games a financial and competition success.
Nor is Romney a bailout artist. After his success at Bain Capital, he was recruited (back) to Bain & Company, where he had started his business career (and which had helped get Bain Capital started), with the purpose of rescuing that now failing company. He restructured the company and its cost structure and returned it to profitability within a year—without need of bailout funding from any source.
Education: Governor Romney has stressed that the Federal government legitimately can play only a limited role in the education of our children, not the massively intrusive role of the current (and recent) administrations.
Romney also supports school choice and, within the current tax system (as opposed to a flat tax, or the tax system proposed by Herman Cain), a tax credit for the expenses incurred by those who prefer home schooling to the current failures of our public school systems. Also, as Governor of Massachusetts, he has vetoed legislation that would have hindered the growth of charter schools.
Finally, Romney favors immersion in English for our immigrants, rather than committing scarce funding and resources to bi-lingual education.
Flip-Flops: For all his reputation as a flipper, he doesn’t seem to be afraid to take a stand. The Left likes to conflate his evolution of policy with flip-flop, and sometimes they’re right. But sometimes they’re wrong. His positions on abortion and on Romneycare are examples. He’s made no bones about the evolution of his views on abortion: as a private citizen, he could view the matter from the outside and take an abortion-tolerant position; however, once he became governor and had to face this matter of life directly, his position evolved. On the matter of Romneycare, he makes no bones of his belief that this program was—and is—right for Massachusetts, but that it’s not right for every state, nor is it right for the federal government to impose it. A flipper changes positions with the political winds; that’s a different behavior than a position legitimately evolving—and not changing back. Romney’s position on these matters—whether we agree or disagree with him—is quite clear and steady.
Finally, here’s Romney’s take on taking a stand in the context of vetoes, including those he knows he can’t sustain, courtesy of The New York Times:
[P]eople used to say to me…“Governor, you’ve had a lot of vetoes and a lot of them get overridden. Most of them get overridden. That weakens your power.” I said, “Baloney. I want people to know what I stand for. And I’m going to veto items even if that 85% [Democratic] legislature goes out and spends it, I’m going to veto it to make sure people know what is right and what is wrong for the leadership in our state.”
Communication: Romney is an effective communicator who can clearly present his positions, and he can debate well. As I’ve written elsewhere in this series, the best ideas in the world have no value if they can’t be offered in a coherent manner.