Don't be fooled by those myths about Mitt
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Naturally, wanting to save the world in general and my grandchildren's future in particular, from another Obama term, I'm paying close attention to the Republican nomination contest and hoping, literally, for the best. Nearly as I can tell, the best is Mitt Romney. I don't know him well personally, but I closely observed him as governor, so perhaps I can be helpful to Republican primary and caucus voters who also want to save the world and are determined to choose wisely.

Some of them are unhappy with Romney even as they are increasingly inclined to support him as the best choice to defeat Obama. I'll hope to make their decision easier by calling my analysis "Myths about Mitt," referring to things I've read and heard from his opponents that don't fit my own perception.

  Myth No. 1:  He's cold and not very lovable.

While I would replace Barack Obama with the warm, huggy-bear Bill Clinton right this minute, I generally prefer people who aren't too gushy. I like presidents with the friendly, yet dignified, reserve of Ronald Reagan; cool over warm, rational over emotional.

I also don't need to love my candidate, though I love Chris Christie, who endorsed Romney.

However, I do like Mitt, and don't understand why anyone doesn't. Never saw him when he wasn't smiling, except one time when he had to deal with a deadly accident at the Big Dig. Never heard rumors about him being verbally abusive to his staff or anyone else; no one can fake that kind of good nature for an entire term; it has to be real.

I think we see this easygoing attitude during the debates, which is why he is perceived as winning them. His performance also indicates he can be tough if he wants to be, especially when a comment is directed at Obama.

  Myth No. 2:  He abandoned us.

I hear this from some of his Massachusetts supporters, who seem genuinely hurt that he left after four years.

I don't remember him ever saying he'd run for a second term; it was all we could do to get him back from Utah to run for the first one when we realized that acting-governor Jane Swift couldn't win.

But he stayed for the full four years, despite having actively supported dozens of Republican legislative challengers, only to see them all lose to the irrational Massachusetts tradition of electing mostly Democrats.

Mitt asked the voters to give him some help with his agenda on Beacon Hill, and the voters said no. Though the Democrats were even more disinclined to work with someone who'd run candidates against them, he stayed on; while beginning his future campaign for the presidency, where he thought he could make a difference. Unfortunately, as it turned out, he and the Legislature did get together to pass health insurance reform, which brings us to ...

  Myth No. 3:  Romney shoved RomneyCare down our throats.

No, he didn't. There were hearings and forums all around the state; proposals, compromises, input from everyone interested, for months. In the end, there was a general consensus vote on the structure of the new health insurance law, with an agreement to move forward on cost controls later.

Yeah, I didn't buy that "fix it forward" plan either; but unlike cynical me, Mitt Romney seemed to really believe that it would all work out. In fact, the first year, my business's premium went down. Then the Legislature added yet another mandate, while not bothering to address costs; and illegal immigrants still got free care while citizens were paying unreasonable fines.

But when Mitt didn't run for a second term, he expected to leave then-Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey in charge of implementation and continuing reform. Though they'd sometimes made an exception for governors, voters went with the "vote Democrat" tradition instead, then made this mistake again in 2010.

  Myth No. 4:  Romney made fun of Massachusetts when he was running for president.

Well, who of us doesn't? When Massachusetts activists are at a national conference, we try to make fun of ourselves before everyone else laughs at us. Many of us have to explain to family and friends in other states why we live in what Jon Keller called "The Bluest State" in his 2007 book about Massachusetts politics.

  Myth No. 5:  Romney has no core convictions; he's a flip-flopper.

Mitt has generally stood by his fiscal convictions, supported tax-cut and tax-limitation ballot questions, stopped an investment-killing retroactive capital gains tax, and vetoed some spending.

The flip-flopping on social issues is harder to defend unless you recognize that Republican candidates have to get past the social conservatives who influence the primaries, without making themselves unattractive to the independents and young voters who could decide the general election.

I've had the impression that some fiscal conservatives don't care deeply about the social issues and kind of wing it until they can get to the things they do care about, like defeating communism or creating jobs.

Since, as I said before, I am focused on saving the world for my grandchildren, I'll support the best choice to best Obama on the vital fiscal issues.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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