2012 is still a long ways off, but as it stands now, Mitt Romney leads in the race for the GOP Presidential nomination according to straw polls that have been held so far. His lead isn’t a great one, as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee aren’t too far behind, but would he make an effective Republican candidate?
As mostly everyone knows, Mitt Romney is the former one-term (by choice) governor of Massachusetts, co-founder of a private investment firm, and the CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. His term as governor saw him reverse a budget deficit through spending cuts, reduced tax loopholes, and, yes, higher state fees.
He’s been knocked for his shifting stance on abortion, which during his Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy his opponent ridiculed as “multiple choice” rather than “pro-choice,” and has since announced his pro-life intentions. In addition, despite his announced opposition to same-sex marriage, he backed a Massachusetts constitutional amendment that would have provided for civil unions. And he instituted a mandatory health insurance law that some have decried as too much governmental interference.
Does he have a stellar conservative record? To be sure, the answer is no, although his stand on the social issues don’t bother me in the slightest. People can change their attitudes, and I think we need to start detangling politics from the culture wars. His raising of taxes and his health insurance attitude are sore sticking points for any fiscal conservative … and yet, his success in the private sector gives him a vantage point that seems to be lacking in public office.
Of the three front-runners for the GOP nod, at this point I’d personally prefer Romney by a small margin. He won’t appease the purists, but he’s been talking the right conservative talk since his Presidential bid in 2008. Some might call him a RINO, but I don’t know if I’d even call him a moderate – possibly just a political pragmatist that was faced with running a very liberal state.
To be sure, he’ll have to roughen up his squeaky clean image just a hair and get his hands dirty in supporting Republicans and conservatives over the next couple years. He can be enthusiastic and charismatic when he wants to be, but he’ll have to turn it up a few notches if he’s going to against an incumbent, no matter what Obama’s approval ratings are at that point. And while we supposedly live in a tolerant country, his Mormon faith may prove too easy a target for both the left and right to affect concern over.
He’s not a perfect candidate, but I doubt Republicans will be blessed with one in 2012. Of the three, for some reason he seems to me to have the “it factor,” that certain demeanor that one associates with leadership, particularly on a Presidential level. He’ll have to continue to prove himself, and he still has many high hurdles to overcome, but a Romney candidacy would in my mind be a good prospect for the GOP, and it’s one I’d be comfortable with. He would give the Republicans as good a chance as any.