Defending Mitt Romney, the man

Published 9:26 am Friday, August 3, 2012

Last week, while having a drink with a friend, the issue of my persistent political favoritism of Democrats over Republicans came into the discussion.

Sparing readers the details my vigorous defense was that it is Republican policies I distrust not Republicans.

And I believe that to be true, that my objections are not about those who strongly believe differently than I, but about why I think they are wrong to do so. This is, I suspect, the foundation of political dialogue.

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This year we have Mitt Romney challenging President Barack Obama for the U.S. presidency. I believe both are qualified to occupy the Oval Office.

Mr. Romney had an incredible career as CEO of Bain Capital. In our capitalistic country the point is most often making money as a hallmark of success. It is the Gold Standard of success, and by any measure Romney’s success was dynamic.

While one can pose that such business success does not suggest success as a U.S. president, one cannot deny and should not attempt to diminish that success.

After Bain, Romney took on a challenge with a significant degree of risk, running the U.S. Olympics in Utah.

The location made his leadership ideal; a successful businessman and a Mormon, solving problems in a state where he already had a large measure of respect and trust.

Romney was once again successful, broadening and deepening his resume in a very different environment than Bain.

After Bain and the Olympics Mitt Romney became governor of Massachusetts for one term. During that term his most significant accomplishment was in providing universal health care for the citizens of that state.

It was a noteworthy accomplishment and one I would wish he would not effectively run away from due to the current Republican political environment.

Since then, and almost without break, Mr. Romney has been pursuing the presidency. It is no small task to do so, and the very accomplishment of winning a presidential nomination in either of our two major political parties requires an incredible variety of skills.

Now Mitt Romney is one of only two who will sit as the American president next year. This is no mean feat.

I think during this accomplished career he has also built a strong and supportive family. By all public measure Mitt Romney is a good man and a good father. The same can be said of President Obama, and in this regard the nation is blessed again with men of strong character as our candidates.

As a candidate, Romney has, as has each potential president, evidenced strengths and weaknesses. Romney’s fundraising strength is perhaps his greatest attribute and one McCain could have wished to have in better supply.

And, as an elbow throwing infighter, Romney demonstrated in the primaries and now in the general election, tenacity and a willingness to fight on any level, a strength like that evidenced by George Bush.

Romney’s weaknesses as a candidate are equally apparent. He moves oddly, stiffly, and speaks uncomfortably, often using phrases not in the common lexicon. He seems not particularly adept at off the cuff conversation or issue explanation.

And, perhaps most importantly, Romney seems to struggle with identifying with voters as someone “like them.”

American politics most often lately seem to lack both civility and respect for the person. That is not serving the nation well.

We should not demonize the individuals who offer themselves up for service to the nation, Republican or Democrat.

Make no mistake, I think the Republican Party has gone from conservative to irrationally radical, and Mr. Romney would never be a candidate I would support.

But that does not mean he is anything be a fine man and qualified to be our president.

Let the voting booth decide the question.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.