November 21, 2006
Mitt Romney for President: Part I, the Competition

As previewed earlier, I'm coming out in full support for Mitt Romney for President. Here at Sound Politics, Matt Rosenberg has already declared his preference for Rudy Giuliani. This writer's thoughts will be broken down into two posts: one summarizing the Republican field, the other examining Romney in greater detail.

So first, here's a quick handicap of the early rumored field . [Note: Here also is a primer of rankings from the influential National Journal, describing the lay of the early landscape in the Presidential race].

Sen. George Allen - people should stop including him on such lists. His political career may not be over after his disastrous loss for re-election to the Senate this year, but his Presidential ambitions for 2008 have been obliterated.

Sen. Bill Frist - nice fellow and a principled guy, but lacks the presence to be a serious Presidential candidate. Also, his service as Majority leader, including the compromises that position necessitates, makes him (or virtually any such person coming from that role) undesirable to all sides of the Republican primary.

Sen. Sam Brownback - another principled fellow, but utterly lacking in either the presence or the political infrastructure to have a serious impact on the race.

Sen. Chuck Hagel - the Republican version of Joe Biden. That is not a compliment.

Rep. Tom Tancredo - tough to see how being viewed, fairly or not, as a one-issue candidate can work when that issue, immigration, divides the Republican party in an ugly way.

Rep. Duncan Hunter - first reaction of many likely Republican primary voters to mention of Duncan Hunter: "Who's that?" Not a good sign.

Gov. George Pataki - the fact New York Republicans don't think much of him after his time as Governor is not the kind of springboard endorsement one would like from a home state.

Gov. Tommy Thompson - does anyone think he's doing anything but running for the Vice Presidential slot on the ticket?

Gov. Mike Huckabee - an interesting personal story, but doesn't seem to have the profile or political capital to make much headway in a crowded field.

Newt Gingrich - One of the most influential conservative thinkers and speakers in the nation, but carries an obscene amount of political baggage from his time as Speaker (where he was routinely outmaneuvered tactically by President Clinton). Has said he won't make any announcements about his Presidential plans until September of 2007. That's a very late potential date of entry given how the field is shaping up, making any Gingrich candidacy more likely to be about moving an issue agenda forward than trying seriously to win.

John McCain - the arguable current front-runner, but an anathema to many conservatives. Some non-conservatives remain perplexed by that fact, but the totality of McCain's deviations from the conservative mainstream will be tough to overcome in the primaries. Those include taxes (he opposed the initial passage of the Bush tax cuts), global warming (he supports what some view as drastic measures to address the issue), McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform (that really reduced the role of money in politics, huh?), judicial filibusters (the Gang of 14), immigration, and gay marriage. All that, and his temperament, personality, and age make him a questionable candidate for President. Interesting Senator no doubt, but a potentially problematic Chief Executive.

Rudy Giuliani - a choice this conservative could still embrace with enthusiasm if Romney doesn't win the nomination. It's nigh impossible to question that Giuliani would be the tough customer necessary to deal with the struggle against radical Islamic terrorism that will be a dominant issue in American foreign policy for years to come. His past leadership as Mayor of New York City, itself a more relevant position than many governorships, is also impressive. Potential concerns with his positions on assorted social issues are well-documented, though are likely to be less of an issue if the nomination battle shapes up as little more than a struggle between him and McCain.

Ok, all well and good. Why Romney? See Part II.

UPDATE: Comments on Romney in specific, as opposed to the potential Presidential field, would probably be better posted at the thread that actually discusses Romney in depth. It makes for a better discussion if they're all in one place.

Posted by Eric Earling at November 21, 2006 07:25 AM | Email This
1. I always liked Newt. I don't know why he got shoved out of leadership. The GOP has been rudderless ever since. I don't know if I want him for President, but I do know he will be good for the national dialogue as he will be 'on stage' for over a year. He always had good ideas.

I hope the other also-rans drop out quickly. Nothing was more irritating in '04 than to see 8-10 people theoretically "debate" each other week after week after week for the Democrats.

Someone suggested that McCain deserves a shot at President, but only if he states up front that if he is not selected, he won't start up a third party run at Presdient.

My favorite is Giuliani even with all his personal foibles.

Right now there isn't anyone in the D party that rises to the level of "Presidential" yet.

Posted by: swatter on November 21, 2006 07:43 AM
2. That should read "between him and McCain," not "between he and McCain."

Posted by: stu on November 21, 2006 08:13 AM
3. ROMNEY's A mormon. Even as a liberal Republican, I would never support someone from that cult.

Posted by: B on November 21, 2006 08:28 AM
4. Dobson or was it Robertson, who supports him, so why can't you B? Are you a Democratic troll with your talking points?

Hewitt or Prager last week dissected and destroyed the fallacy of the 'cult' mentality the Romney detractors are going to use to discredit him.

Posted by: swatter on November 21, 2006 08:34 AM
5. Why Not Newt?

Besides the political baggage, there was the small issue of him, ahem, "escorting" a young lady not his wife. Not a good move, Mr Speaker. Just because President Clinton was doing it didn't make it acceptable.

Mr Gingrich seems one of those people who is very often right on a subject, but abrasively so. Of course, part of that may just have been the fact that he isn't a Democrat History Professor.

Posted by: pyotr on November 21, 2006 08:37 AM
6. Rep. Tom Tancredo - tough to see how being viewed, fairly or not, as a one-issue candidate can work when that issue, immigration, divides the Republican party in an ugly way.

1) IF Tancredo were to run, it would become clear that he is NOT one issue, and people would be pleased to learn of his positions on other issues.

2) You say that the immigration issue "divides the Republican Party in an ugly way." Yes, you're right. The elite/pro-amnesty wing of the party gets down right ugly in protecting their greedy bottom line on the backs of the American people ILLEGALLY. And someone who stands up to that is admirable, which is why Tom Tancredo is admired by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.

His candidacy would be a good thing for the party.

Posted by: Michelle on November 21, 2006 09:17 AM
7. Michelle - amen. BTW - protest at the Capitol this Saturday at noon against illegal immigration.

Posted by: hi on November 21, 2006 09:51 AM
8. Damn them aliens, send 'em back to Mars!

Posted by: Cato on November 21, 2006 10:16 AM
9. B,

As it happens I am a member of the same church
that Mitt Romney is. Thats right Eric and
everyone else you heard it here first I am
a Mormon. I have been all my life. I have to
tell you B that remark you just made is something
I hear every so often.Nearly always without
exception the person making those remarks
knows almost nothing about the Lds Church.
Its what they heard somewhere else.

If you really want to know ask an active member
of the church.Don't waste your time reading
the negative websites or books about us. Not
one bit of that stuff is true.

Posted by: phil spackman on November 21, 2006 10:18 AM
10. pyo, your list of acceptables is down to almost zero now. There was McCain; then there is Giuliani.

How far are you willing to compromise your wants in order to not get Clinton again? So far, I haven't heard anyone talk about the two front runners womanizing.

The R party is sunk!!!!!!

On the other hand, Gingrich will not get selected. But, he will be good for public debate and getting ideas out there. It will be between Romney and Giuliani unless one of them makes a big gaffe in the coming months.

The R party is sunk!!!!! There are no Reagans out there to satisfy one and all.

Posted by: swatter on November 21, 2006 10:26 AM
11. B at #3,

I grew up in Michigan and Mitt's father was governor of that state for 3 terms. His mormon faith didn't have any detrimental effect on Michigan. It was pretty much a moot point in terms of his performance as cheif executive of the state. I don't think it should be an issue here.

Posted by: RBW on November 21, 2006 10:41 AM
12. Stu: Why do you even bother posting comments that are only to correct grammar and spelling? Is it because you have nothing to say about the issues being discussed?

Phil: Regarding LDS, I have had only limited professional dealings with the church, and I can tell you that if not for LDS, who support and facilitate some of the best blood drives in the Puget Sound, our blood banks would be in trouble. LDS congregations come to donate in droves, and continue afterwards to donate regularly at the blood banks. That's more than can be said of most other congregations here, some much larger than LDS.

Posted by: katomar on November 21, 2006 10:50 AM
13. Hell will freeze before I vote for McCain't. I respect him for his military service but am weary of his grandstanding power trip. I have been a "straight ticket" R and a true (social AND fiscal) conservative most of my adult life, but will abstain from voting if McCain't is heading the ticket in '08.

Posted by: Saltherring on November 21, 2006 11:16 AM
14. So, if the question was Clinton or McCain, you would vote for Clinton? Doesn't make sense if you are indeed both a social and fiscal conservative. You would put your dislike for McCain above your principles and vote for Clinton?

Posted by: swatter on November 21, 2006 11:27 AM
15. Gee, if this is the list of Republicans, other than McCain, they are in sorry shape. This last election showed the public is fed up with duplicity, so this rules out Giuliani. If he is the nominee, how soon will his mistress and messy divorce become the main campaign topic instead of whatever he might have to stated. The same is true with Newt and his indiscretions. If the Religious Right supports either of these two then, they have written their tombstone with regards to family values. Romney might be nice, but is a Northeasterner. How well will that play in the South? Do I hear crickets?

The only honorable and known person on the list is Chuck Hagel, but somehow Bob Dole comes to mind. Great at what he does and could be a great leader, but would never get elected by the general public.

If the Republicans were interested in making a statement, they should draft Condi. I hope that McCain is the nominee. At least there would be a contest and spirited debate. McCain's problem will be getting through the primary. Conservative Republicans don't like his independent streak, plus they want to rule out everywhere the general public/independent voter from deciding their nominee.

No, it is beginning to look like a Bob Dole year, and I really liked Bob Dole and thought he would have be a good president.

Posted by: tc on November 21, 2006 12:24 PM
16. I know quite a bit about the cult. After all, all my friends were mormon growing up and i was in an LDS boy scout troop. I'd say i know the cult just fine. And thats exactly what it is. Hell, I'd vote for a Jehovah Witness before a mormon.

Posted by: B on November 21, 2006 12:42 PM
17. B,

I don't for a minute believe what your saying.
In the plus 40 years I have been a member.No one
has ever held me hostage to anything.I like everyone
else have always been free to come and go as I
please. Nor do they lock people in a room and
make them repeat anything over and over again until
its ingrained in there minds.This has not and does
not ever happen.

I think you are just like a lot of other people
who out of ignorance say these kind of things.
What your really trying to accomplice is to
scare others off that might be interested in
finding out more about us.I think that's pretty
sad. I know this comment thred was about Mitt.
So this is all I'm going to say regarding this
from here on out.

Posted by: phil spackman on November 21, 2006 01:11 PM
18. Swatter,

"....abstain from voting if McCain't is heading the ticket in '08."

The Random House College Dictionary proffers:

ab-stain, n, "to refrain voluntarily from something regarded as improper or unhealthy"

My post mentions nothing about "Clinton" or an other potential opposition-party candidate, only abstention. And if you consider McCain't a conservative, you vote for him.

Posted by: Saltherring on November 21, 2006 01:41 PM
19. Free country, Salty, but your statement about not voting says more about you than if you voted against McCain. I vote in all elections and I don't abstain on anything except between the two dogcatcher candidates that I don't know.

An abstention on President is a vote for Clinton.

Posted by: swatter on November 21, 2006 01:56 PM
20. Swatter,

I also vote in every election and normally only abstain when I don't know the candidates or a Democrat is running unopposed.

McCain't is distastful for all the reasons Eric notes in his post. If the Republican Pary can't field a presidential candidate superior to McCain't, perhaps the Party deserves to lose the presidency until such time that it can.

Posted by: Saltherring on November 21, 2006 02:15 PM
21. Phil--

The cultists have obviously brain washed you. I would go find a real church or just quit religion altogether to get better.


Posted by: b on November 21, 2006 02:34 PM
22. Nina Easton at Fortune magazine has an interesting article about Newt Gingrich, while John Podhoretz at the NY Post has an interesting take on a Rudy Guiliani.

I still think Newt is a guy greatly underestimated by far too many.
He has my vote.

However, I also think a Romney/Gingrich or a Guiliani/Gingrich ticket (and assorted variations of those 3!) would be fantastic too.

I simply don't trust McCain. He comes off as a grandstander and an opportunist, neither of which engender trust.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskold on November 21, 2006 02:46 PM
23. B...there are numerous Mormons who read this blog and what you are saying does not happen. And, for the record, I'm a Mormon who, for his own reasons, isn't even active in Church.

But...feel free to believe what you want and not take the words of people who live it or have lived it.

Vote for Mitt if he's your candidate. If not, vote for someone else. Personally I'd vote for *any* Republican over Hillary. Period. And that's what it boils down to for me.

Posted by: Matt on November 21, 2006 06:36 PM
24. Michelle @ 6 -

I'm not going to begin to speculate on the effect Tancredo will or will not have if he gets into the race. However, I will say the impact of many of the lesser known challengers has in the past tended to be more how they shift the campaign debate rather than electoral success they enjoy (Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, etc.). Accordingly, let me propose a hypothetical scenario for you to answer:

Let's say Tancredo gets into the race, and joins the individuals not-named Giuliani, McCain, and Romney who have trouble gaining traction consistently above double digits. Accordingly, after Iowa, New Hampshire, and say South Carolina, everyone else has dropped out of the race except those three gentlemen. Who would you vote for in the Washington State Presidential Primary?

Posted by: Eric Earling on November 21, 2006 06:50 PM
25. Eric,

Let's just say, I hope it doesn't come to that, and I don't think it will either. McCain isn't as popular as the media would like us to believe. Atleast not among Republicans. Giuliani will never get the support of the base. Romney very likely will be one of the final contenders, but let's just see who else will make it that far.

Anything can happen, as far as I'm concerned. The so-called lesser knowns might not be so "lesser known" when the time comes. From what I know about Romney, I couldn't support him, and it has nothing to do with being Mormon. Give me a Mormon candidate that's right on the most important issues, and I'll support him.

Posted by: Michelle on November 21, 2006 07:15 PM
26. Michelle -

I'm well aware you hope it doesn't came to that. Yet, there is a reasonably high degree of probability that one of those three will end up winning the nomination. Despite the displeasure many conservatives have with McCain, he'll be competitive with likely Republican primary voters - though obviously not with conservative activists. So will Giuliani for that matter, for many of the opposite reasons conservatives dislike McCain, Rudy's social positions not withstanding (see John Podhoretz's column today for an interesting take on this broader point). Meanwhile, Romney has to keep doing things right, but at the very least is likely to be competitive as well, as you acknowledge. So, with all that in mind, would you do me the honor of answering the original question?

Posted by: Eric Earling on November 21, 2006 08:09 PM
27. Let me just answer your question with a warning, similiar to the one I gave about Mike McGavick early on in the campaign (that he would lose worse than George Nethercutt): Nominate any of these three, and they will lose, perhaps as badly as Bob Dole. Being less liberal than the Democrat (and even having the "right enemies") doesn't cut it anymore! That is the lesson of the 2006 election! You can deny it all you want, but if you really want Republicans to win in '08, let conservatives pick the nominee.

BTW, I read Podhoretz's book too. Nothing but campaign literature for Giuliani. Good thing I didn't pay for it.

Posted by: Michelle on November 21, 2006 08:48 PM
28. Michelle - we actually agree on one aspect of your last comment. I too think that if McCain is the nominee there is the potential for a Dole-like poor showing, at least against Clinton. If Gore is somehow the opponent, McCain might be able to take him...but I sure wouldn't want to bet any money on that.

Posted by: Eric Earling on November 21, 2006 09:21 PM
29. Eric after Michelle after Eric, etcetera:

Eric said:
''Yet, there is a reasonably high degree of probability that one of those three will end up winning the nomination.''

Ditch the ''reasonably'' prefix: Absent some variant of a bolt of lightening, IMO it is highly likely we are going to have 2 of these people nominated, and 1 elected:

Hillary, Obama, or Edwards 4 the (D)s.
McCain, Giuliani, or Romney 4 the (R)s.

Eric is right on about Allen, Frist, Brownback, Pataki, Thompson, Huckabee, and Hunter (although note Hunter is a real expert and VERY good on defense issues, but that by itself isn't enough to get him nominated let alone elected).

I don't know if Hagel is QUITE as bad as the Joe Biden comparison makes him seem, but he's not gonna win either.

Tom Tancredo is as good as it gets on immigration and border security; plus while that certainly is his signature issue I agree with Michelle that there's a lot more to him than just that. If a long-shot was going to get it, Tancredo would be high on my list. But that's very unlikely to happen (see my above).

When it's all over, I think McCain will win it all. Not quite at the ''bet the ranch'' level yet of course, but I expect he will take both the nomination AND the election. If I'm right, I just hope someone can convince him that a nation that has no effective control over its borders is destined for (multiple) unhappy outcomes.

Posted by: Methow Ken on November 21, 2006 11:26 PM
30. I find it amusing that those who lambast McCain for his lack of conservative credentials are so willing to look the other way with Romney and Guiliani. I am not saying that McCain is a - conservative but on the record, he is CLEARLY more conservative than Romney or Guiliani. My guess is that you all prefer Romney and Guiliani because they are less willing to speak out against other Republicans and more willing to tow the party line. I find it surprising that so many are willing to sacrifice principle for party. Bottom line? Any Republican Primary voter who is willing to vote for Romney or Guiliani over McCain is a REPUBLICAN FIRST and a CONSERVATIVE SECOND!!!

Posted by: IT on November 24, 2006 01:53 PM
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