Poly Sci 101: Mitt Romney

An anxious soon to be Mormon father spoke frantically into the phone, “My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!”

“Is this her first child?” the doctor asked.

“No, you idiot!” the man shouted. “This is her husband!” 

Well, all Mormon-jokes aside, Mitt Romney continues his run for the Republican nomination.  Despite only winning New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada, three of the seven primaries that have been held so far, Romney is still considered the Republican “front runner.”  
Why?  What does Mitt Romney have to offer our nation?  What qualities would make him a good president? What qualities make Romney an equal competitor to Barack Obama?

1. Romney Comes from Powerful, but unlucky, Political Roots

You don’t have to look too far into the Romney family tree to find roots of conservative Mormonism, even including polygamy.  In addition to his connection to the Mormon church, the Romney’s have long been entrenched in politics. 

His father George advanced from humble beginnings in Detroit all the way to the Michigan governor’s mansion, where they lived and he served from 1963 to 1969.  In 1968, George Romney ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Nomination, losing to Richard Nixon.  During that election cycle, many criticized George Romney for opposing the War in Vietnam.  Still, the elder Romney went on to work in Nixon’s cabinet, in the Department of Housing and Urban Development until 1973.

Mitt Romney didn’t inherit political aspirations from his father alone.  His mother Lenore also tried her luck at a race for the Senate in 1970.  Echoing her husband’s lost race two years before, Lenore was defeated.  

 2. Romney is a Hard Worker Campaigning on Job Creation

More than anything, this is what makes me want to vote for Mitt Romney.  He worked hard at Stanford, BYU and Harvard.  Needless to say, he is incredibly smart and business-savvy.

From 1977-1999, Romney was a key partner at Bain Capital, where he not only saved the consulting company, but also businesses like Staples and Dominos.  Romney made his personal fortune reorganizing and making these corporations more efficient.  The Huffington Post reported that according to those statements, in 2010, Romney’s personal income was near $10 million.  He promises again and again to use his economic prowress to create jobs across America. 

From 1999-2002, Romney worked his managerial magic again.  In the midst of an International Olympic Committee bribery scandal, Romney was appointed to help steer the Winter Olympics to snowy success–and he did, all while developing vital political experience, supporters, and relationships ripe for fundraising. 

Soon thereafter, those sociopolitical connections helped Romney hard-work his way into the Massachusetts governorship, where he promised to create jobs in the state.  Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, his hard work in Massachusetts has received mixed reviews. Romney was able to create favorable conditions for job creation from 2002-2007, but when the rest of the country began to devolve into recession–there was no economic policy strong enough to thwart the pull, even on Romney’s state. 

The question to ask in a capitalist market is– how much can we praise or blame job creation on a governor or president?  Sadly, that is the pillar on which Romney has staked his campaign.

3.  Romney Carries a Cold Exterior

Before really delving into the character of Newt Gingrich, I was drawn to him simply because Mitt Romney reminded me of a cold statue cut from a piece of marble, perfectly shaped, but helplessly stoic.  At least Gingrich is fun to watch, I thought.

 Have you seen this Saturday Night Live spoof on Romney’s cold demeanor? And here’s another, which demonstrates the stark temperamental differences between Romney and the refreshingly charasmatic New Jersey governor, Chris Christie.

Of course, some of Romney’s own remarks haven’t helped his disingenuous reputation.  His comment that he is “not concerned about the very poor”  and the he “like[s] being able to fire people” have only exacerbated public opinion that he is disconnected, fake, ridiculously wealthy, and unable to relate to the very people he is campaigning for.

Perhaps most caustically, journalist Rick Perlstein wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed four years ago arguing that Romney would “go down as the most robotic big-ticket presidential candidate in history.”  He repeated that accusation in a Rolling Stone article just a few weeks ago.  I think he might be right.

So therein lies Romney’s greatest problem.  Will his personality get in the way of his record of hard work?  Will his riches pay for the campaign, but disqualify him from the White House?  Does charisma and character trump experience?