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In last week’s commentary I announced the formation of my presidential exploratory committee. The majority of the responses I have received have been very positive and encouraging, and the responses to the common-sense solutions I have discussed at dozens of town hall-style meetings have been outstanding.

My focus at these meetings has been on strengthening our national security, unleashing the full growth potential of our economy, cutting government spending, modernizing our social programs, fixing our immigration problems and implementing a real energy independence strategy.

People have responded especially well to my approach to problem solving.

They are not expecting a leader to have all of the answers, but an effective leader knows how to get to the answers. Leaders identify the right problems, set the right priorities, select the right people and execute the right plans on behalf of the people.

These meetings have also given me an additional opportunity to listen to people’s concerns and ideas. Two years ago, people expressed themselves as “concerned” about the direction of the country. Now, they consistently express “fear” about the direction of the country.

They know that our economy is growing at an anemic rate. They have figured out that a “jobless economic recovery,” as expressed by the administration, is just political spin. They know that our national debt and debt obligations to foreign countries are dangerously out of control. And a large majority (66 percent) of the people simply believes that the U.S. is moving in the wrong direction.

Unlike many of the politicians in office, I hear the people. They want solutions, not more problems or more problems put off for a future time that Washington never gets back to solving. Our Social Security and Medicare crises did not just sneak up on us. We have known they were coming for decades!

At none of the many meetings did anyone tell me that they wanted someone with previous political or office-holding experience. Whereas this is a typical question by reporters and commentators, regular folks couldn’t care less.

A regularly asked question was my position on the Fair Tax.

I have been and still am a 100 percent supporter of the Fair Tax. It replaces all federal tax on income including the payroll tax with a 23 percent national retail sales tax. It is revenue-neutral and non-regressive on low-income workers because of the pre-bate provision for basic essentials.

Granted, prior to about 1996, I supported the Flat Tax on income as promoted by Steve Forbes, because at the time I and many others were in favor of anything that had a chance of replacing the current tax code mess we have today. The Fair Tax is truly a better alternative than the Flat Tax. The Fair Tax also has a huge grassroots base of supporters, and there’s actual legislation pending in Congress.

For more than 15 years, we have been trying to get the Fair Tax passed. We have to continue to put pressure on Congress to pass it and send it to the White House for the president’s signature.

If I am in the White House, I will sign it in a heartbeat and would lead the parade to get it there!

I must first make a final decision to run during this exploratory phase, raise enough money to be competitive, win the Republican nomination and then defeat President Obama.

That’s obviously an uphill battle for anyone. But I am willing to make such a huge consideration because of our grandchildren. They don’t deserve to inherit the mess we will leave if we do not change the current course of the U.S.

Previous political experience got us into this mess. People are looking for a leader, not a politician.

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