Mitt Romney doesn’t need to be president of the United States.
A wealthy guy with a stable home, a great family and the world as his oyster, he doesn’t need the rigors of a presidential campaign, let alone the endless, trying hours and the plethora of pressing issues that await him should he win in November.
He doesn’t need the constant scrutiny of his personal life and finances or the carping of a hostile press wholly in the bag for his opponent. He doesn’t deserve to be harangued by the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
So why is Romney even running? Why did he leave the comfort and security of Bain Capital, a highly successful firm he helped build and which provided him a rare opportunity to become a billionaire?
Why did he instead choose to run the Winter Olympics and then the state of Massachusetts?
Why does such a rich guy, whom we’ve been told is so affluent he couldn’t possibly care about the rest of us, let alone relate to our needs and concerns, want to put himself and his family through what is arguably the most rigorous, stressful and soul-sucking process that is a presidential campaign?
Well, it must be ego, right? Arrogance, perhaps? One more world to conquer – that sort of thing?
Let’s look at that.
Understand that a billionaire doesn’t need to conquer “worlds.” He buys them. In Romney’s case, though, we saw a one-percenter and his wife voluntarily choose a different, less profitable path, one of public service. So much for the ego angle.
President Obama loves to play the class warfare card with Romney and those in his socioeconomic circle, associating their wealth with inherent stinginess and selfishness.
He said as much in a 2002 speech commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. when he said the rich “got what they want,” and that they “want to make sure people don’t take their stuff.” (I’m assuming Obama doesn’t want people just taking his “stuff” either, but I digress.)
Since the Romneys are Mormons in good standing, they are expected to tithe 10 percent of their income to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Romney made some $40 million in 2010 and 2011, and that he donated about $4.1 million to the LDS Church. “That’s in addition to about $4.8 million his Tyler Charitable Foundation donated to the faith,” the paper said.
So here we have the Romneys giving away a lot of their personal wealth, which is, of course, part of their “stuff.” So much for the stingy capitalist angle.
In 2011, according to his tax returns, Romney and wife, Ann, gave $4 million to charities – or about 30 percent of his income. They could have claimed all of that as a tax deduction, but only claimed $2.25 million. That means, in essence, the Romneys overpaid their taxes that year by not taking the full deduction owed them.
Is this something a man who couldn’t care less about others would do? So much for the selfish angle.
Romney is a man who has made the personal decisions not to drink or smoke. He’s happily married, and it shows. He and Ann have raised five outstanding young men. They have everything they could ever possibly want or need.
Why, then, is this man running for president, putting himself through the agony of a presidential race, to have his motives questioned and his reputation jealously savaged by pseudo-intellectuals in the press and chattering class?
I have an idea about that.
I think it’s because Mitt Romney is a noble man. And his bid for the presidency is perhaps the most noble gesture of our time.
It’s obvious from his debate performance Wednesday night that Romney, despite the headwinds he’s faced, is still very passionate and optimistic about America. It is equally obvious, judging by his past experience and record, that he has the leadership qualities necessary to make a positive impact on America’s future.
He sounds like a man who is not interested in writing off 47 percent of the population, but rather providing 100 percent of us the opportunity to accomplish what he has.
More importantly, he is willing to step up to the plate.
Mitt Romney is a rich guy. He doesn’t need to be president. The fact that he still wants to be, given all that he has endured, is genuinely noble.
Instead of trying to tear him apart we should be thanking him for offering up his experience and service. It’s not like he needs the money.
Jon E. Dougherty is a Missouri-based political science major, author, writer and columnist. Follow him on Twitter.