Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mitt Romney- CEO For the USA?

In The News

By: Richard Lowry
National Review

"Mitt Romney tells the audience at a town-hall meeting here how his kids got him a 1962 Rambler - the American Motors car produced by his dad George Romney – for his 60th birthday. It seems just a charming story to warm up the crowd. Romney says, 'We got it started, drove it up the road – and then pushed it home.' People laugh. But Romney is really telling a parable about his favorite theme: change.
"He says his 1962 car had no arm rest, no seatbelts, no bucket seats, and a great big steering wheel that it took a lot of muscle to turn. 'Cars have changed a lot,' he says. And then he launches into his real point: 'People selling us goods and services figure out they got to make them better every year.' The people who run government feel no similar obligation, especially in Washington where 'talk is the currency.' Romney says 'talk has no value – not in the real world,' and that he 'grew up in the real world.'
"This is the core message of Romney's campaign, and it is a credible one that accords with his background and interests. He's a businessman populist running as a Washington outsider, although without the nasty edge or fiery rhetoric of past populist anti-Washington candidates (think Gephardt circa 1988, Perot circa 1992, or Buchanan circa whenever). Romney is technocratic and non-threatening, giving the impression that he will slay the slouching beast of ineffective, wasteful government with flow-charts and unremitting politeness.
"It is impossible to be around Romney and not be impressed – by his obvious intelligence, by his fluid speaking style, by his accomplishments in business and government, by his appearance. The former venture capitalist and Massachusetts governor is a technically proficient candidate, a good fundraiser and organizer who makes a winning impression on the stump. And yet, one still wonders whether voters will buy him."
"Prior to his Derry meeting, Romney visits a small manufacturing firm in Manchester, Granite State Manufacturing. He gets a politician's typical speed tour, getting briefed on the company's products ranging from semi-conductors to the small robots the military uses against bomb threats. Then he is brought out onto the shop floor to deliver remarks to the couple of dozen gathered employees from behind a podium.
"Romney seems an incongruous presence, crisp and well pressed, in this industrial setting, with a concrete floor and buzzing lights overhead. He says that he was wondering about what united the company's different products, and his guide explained the company is good at 'things that are changing a lot.' That, of course, sets up Romney nicely, and he gives a kind of mini–business tutorial. It is possible to imagine him fitting in here, after all – as a business consultant. "He explains that if you're making the same product or delivering the same service over an extended period, 'you're in trouble.' To illustrate that improvement is always possible, he says when Hank Paulson left Goldman Sachs for the Treasury Department, everyone assumed the firm couldn't possibly be run any more effectively, but 'the new chief executive changed everything and now it's doing better.' Then – of course – he complains that government doesn't change enough, and tells the workers that, in the private sector, 'I learned to change things.' "Romney doesn't have a highly ideological message on the stump. He is running as a mild limited-government conservative. He says over and over again that to make America better 'you don't strengthen government, you strengthen the American people.' He plumps for lower taxes (he wants to cut taxes on saving and investment), advocates keeping federal spending below the level of inflation, and notes that he liked to veto bills in Massachusetts. None of this is hard to believe of Romney."
"At every stop, he lauds New Hampshire voters for the intensive nature of their primary, during which they take the time to learn 'about the character of those running.' He urges them to 'measure us for our character and heart and passion and values.'"
"At his town-hall meeting, he talks about the importance of marriage. 'Kids deserve a mom and a dad,' he says, and 'where we can, let's encourage marriage before children.' By way of illustrating the de-valuing of marriage, he tells of an aide going to Babies 'R' Us with his pregnant wife and getting asked by a salesperson, 'What's your girlfriend's name?' There are a few gasps in the audience.
"This might seem a tame volley in the culture wars, but few other major politicians talk about the culture of marriage at all, and Romney's upstanding personal life allows him to do it without embarrassment."
"On this day, he's campaigning with his oldest son Tagg and Tagg's daughter. Before introducing him at the Granite State Manufacturing event, Romney explains that he 'fell in love in high school,' and married his high-school sweetheart, Ann. Tagg was 'born on our anniversary, one year after we got married' – one of those perfect touches in what seems a perfect family life. He says that Tagg's daughter is taking the day off from school. But could a Romney ever play hooky? 'She's seeing how the political process works and then writing a paper on it for Monday.' She'll probably get an 'A.'
"Years ago, a pollster asked people which presidential candidate they would rather have baby-sit their child. Forget baby-sit – most people would probably be comfortable having Mitt Romney raise their children."
"He has a quick sense of humor to go along with his cheerfulness. When he mentions the Rambler, a few people clap, and he quips, 'A couple of guys had Ramblers – but they're not the ones clapping.' At Granite State Manufacturing, he manipulates a bomb-squad robot using a joystick on a table. He points it mock-menacingly toward a reporter: 'Let's see, I'll go for the AP today.' When an official at a charity he visits jokingly says to the assembled cameras that he himself is getting into the presidential race, Romney interjects from the sidelines, 'Not another one!'"
"On this trip, Romney is campaigning on the high of having outpaced the other Republican candidates by raising $23 million. The big number ensured he would stay in the first tier of candidates. As a Romney aide explains, with anticipated candidates Sens. George Allen and Bill Frist never getting in the race, the press put Romney in the top tier without his really having to earn it. Now, he's earned it."...