A little advice for Mitt: Let Romney be Romney
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, July 21, 2012

Last weekend on one of those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” (Nat King Cole, 1963), I was lying in the hammock thinking about unsolicited advice to give Mitt Romney.

First, remember when Ronald Reagan was running for president and being given advice, much of it conflicting, from a variety of both highly paid and unpaid consultants? Finally, someone said “let Reagan be Reagan” and he was, into the White House.

So, let Romney be Romney. I find him likable and real, perhaps a little corny, not any different than he was when he governed here. I was glad to see him on vacation, riding on the back of a Jet Ski driven by his wife, obviously not caring if someone thinks Jet Skis are elitist, or real men always drive. If John Kerry, photographed windsurfing, had laughed and said, “I LOVE windsurfing, it’s fun, and a nice break from being decisive all the time,” he might have survived the killer political ad claiming that he, like most politicians, goes with the wind of public opinion just to get elected.

If I had known Romney well enough to advise him on social issues, early on, I’d have said, never go with the wind of public opinion unless you agree with it. I’d love someday to test my theory: One can get through a party primary without pandering to the most committed elements of that party if one sits firmly on one’s Jet Ski. I like the way Mitt responded to an abortion question in Colorado last week, that it’s a very tough issue, he understands and respects both sides, he chose his side and expects respect for that personal decision. I think that simple answer would have worked for him through all his campaigns, and the “flip-flop” attack wouldn’t have stuck.

On the other hand, candidates, if you do change your mind about something, just ask a critical audience: Have you never changed your mind about anything? No? Wow, glad I’m not like that, never learning or growing.

Which brings us to Romneycare. Romney explains its original “personal responsibility” concept and bare-bones affordable insurance, but hasn’t seriously acknowledged what’s gone wrong with it since it passed. I thought the campaign should have had a Republican legislator here file a correction bill, at least getting rid of the additional required coverage added by the Legislature.

All Republican candidates need a proposed state model with which to replace Obamacare if Romney repeals it as promised. I wish someone would take the recommendations in the Pioneer Institute’s book “The Great Experiment: The States, the Feds and Your Healthcare” and put them into bill form for other state legislatures to adapt re: the federalist model Romney supports.

Here’s some advice I received when I started debating issues: Challenge your opponents’ assumptions, don’t respond as if they are valid. When some Democrats, liberals or Occupiers address tax policy by charging that Republicans only want tax breaks for their rich friends, why doesn’t anyone ever ask “why?”

Why would someone who wanted to be elected jeopardize his chances by doing favors for rich friends unless there is a sound economic principle involved? Clearly, supporters of tax limitation have a better grasp of what drives an economy than politicians who have never related to or worked in the private sector, like President Obama.

Republican candidates need to explain basic economics to those who, if they studied it in school, probably studied under liberal teachers who think that government money grows on trees. And after the debacle of 2008, Republicans need to understand that the old platitudes don’t necessarily work anymore, that there is a sector of the private sector, infiltrated by the public sector, that has nothing to do with real capitalism, i.e., the marketplace.

There is a new reality around the world marketplace, and some of the “bootstraps” platitudes don’t work there, either; we need intelligent discussion about jobs that have gone overseas, never to return. The recent bipartisan outrage about American Olympic uniforms made in China is a good place to start that discussion, which Romney should lead.

Also, Mitt, whatever you decided to do with your tax returns, investments and other income, own it and tell us what your reasons were. For instance, feel free to say what I would if I’d ever had enough money to place in a Swiss bank account: I was hiding it from those politicians who think that “tax the rich” is good policy and would steal anything they could find over $200,000 if they had the votes.

Advice on vice president: Keep the congressmen, senators where they are; you’ll need them. I liked New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, but she has too many family responsibilities, so I’m now hoping for a good surprise choice, maybe Ken Cuccinelli, present attorney general in the battleground state of Virginia, who has his master’s in international commerce and policy.

Finally: As Deval Patrick runs around the country supporting Obama, run an ad telling the entire country about our governor’s support for subsidized tattoos, pornography, guns, jewelry, vacation cruises and lobster for Massachusetts welfare recipients.

You’re welcome, Mitt.

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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