A neighbor recently asked me whom I was supporting for the GOP presidential nomination. He was surprised that I hadn’t decided to support Mitt Romney. Frankly, I had a hard time explaining my indecision even though I have serious problems with the other candidates.
Gingrich, though a great idea man, blew it when he became speaker of the House. He squandered the Republican revolution he led and punished conservatives who stood by their principles. Then, there are his serial moral failings.
Ron Paul is right on economic and constitutional issues, but his positions on foreign policy scare me to death.
Santorum is a good man even though he often went along to get along with George W. Bush when Bush was increasing the size of government and spending us into oblivion. My biggest problem with Santorum, however, is that he has never run a business.
That should be a prerequisite for anyone seeking public office. How can anyone hope to run the country who has never run so much as a lemonade stand, who has never met a payroll or been in the difficult position of having to fire someone?
Romney, on paper, is an ideal candidate. He is a moral man and has been a near-perfect son, husband and father. He is a man with deep religious convictions (though not the religion of most Americans). Nevertheless, Mormons share our Judeo-Christian values.
Romney spent two and a half years on the mission field for his church. He gives generously to charity. He could have relied on his inheritance, but, no, Romney gave that away as well. He is an extremely wealthy man, but he gained his wealth by his own hard work and ingenuity.
Romney built and led a highly successful business and has led a state. He took over the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics and turned the Salt Lake City games into a financial success. He gave all the money he made from the Olympics to charity.
What is not to like? Why is this man not the “perfect” candidate?
His biggest problem is his perfectionism. It is not that he is perfect. He is too perfect, too guarded to be real. He will not let us see the real Mitt Romney or get a glimpse of his struggles and failings that are part of every human life. That is a characteristic of the Mormon experience. There is no room for failure, or at least none that can be admitted.
That is why there has been no backing away from Romneycare or any other issue where he will flat-out admit, “I was wrong.” This attitude has turned off a lot of people who would otherwise be in his camp.
Recently, two people I know well related their unpleasant encounters with Romney to me. The first works on Capitol Hill. The other lives on the West Coast and is a supporter of conservative causes. In both meetings, Romney was questioned about some of the positions he took while governor of Massachusetts. Instead of answering their questions, he flew into a rage. That is not the way to win friends or votes!
We saw an inkling of this in the last debate hosted by CNN’s John King. When faced with a simple question he didn’t like, Romney refused to give an answer. “You get to ask the questions you want. I get to give the answer (or not) I want,” he snipped.
But, perhaps Romney’s biggest problem is the fact that he spent most of his life in Massachusetts. He appears to be running – not for president of the United States – but for president of Massachusetts. The country is a center-right country. He doesn’t get that.
While the economy is the central issue in the campaign, Romney’s failure to address his coziness with the gay-rights movement is troubling. His failure to stake out a straightforward position on this issue in terms of marriage, the military and even the Boy Scouts of America is a big problem, not only with Christians like me, but with others. He is for traditional marriage but supports domestic partnerships that have all the privileges and benefits of marriage. He supports “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for the military but would not go back to this policy now that Obama has allowed those who practice homosexuality to serve openly. He supports the Boy Scouts’ “right” to exclude homosexuals but thinks it is wrong.
He is too clever by half, and this is why the majority of voters don’t trust him. On paper he is the best candidate, but we need a real candidate with solid convictions, not a cardboard cutout.