Sunday, July 17, 2005

Candidate Profile Twenty-Four: Mitt Romney

NOTE: No doubt you found yourself here after a Google search for Mitt Romney's resume. I'm glad you're here, but I'd rather see you at the new Decision '08, which can be found here. Come join the conversation!

Any Republican who manages to get elected governor of Massachusetts must have crossover appeal. The current occupant of that office is not making a secret of his plans to make a run in 2008, and has been appearing in key states and distributing money to lawmakers through his PAC in preperation.

Willard Mitt Romney - official bio

A Romney 2008 blog

RESUME - Governor of Massachusetts, 2003 - present; former President and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Comittee; son of three-term Michigan Governor George Romney; former Vice President, then CEO, of Bain & Company, Inc.; founder, Bain Capital; ran for the Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy

Romney has a reputation as a social moderate (anathema to the hardcore right) because of his stance on abortion (though he shows opportunistic signs of changing as he tests the 2008 waters), but as this editorial in the Wall Street Journal shows, he's against gay marriage, despite governing the state that threw the issue into the national spotlight. He also is seeking to reinstate the Massachusetts death penalty in certain cases. It's safe to say, then, that Romney (for better or worse) is willing to do what it takes to portray himself as conservative enough to take the nomination.

One intriguing aspect of a Romney run is the Massachusetts connection. Would it be foolish to nominate a candidate who has virtually no chance of delivering his home state? Romney may also be portrayed as a northeastern liberal in disguise during the primaries, and his opponents will surely argue that he will have no southern appeal.

That's child's play, though, next to what has to be the most controversial aspect of a Romney candidacy, his membership in the Church of Latter Day Saints. Leaving aside personal feelings on the issue (though I will refer you to a previous discussion), if Romney makes a strong showing in the early part of the campaign, one or more opponents may be tempted to go negative on this issue. The LDS is rapidly growing, but polling data from 1999 revealed 17% of the population would oppose a Mormon candidate on the basis of his faith alone.

My best guess is that his Mormon background won't automatically disqualify him, but it has to be considered a handicap. In a very real way, that serves as a metaphor for Romney's candidacy...a lot of positives, but a lot of handicaps. You might say Romney is the 'if' candidate...if no one breaks out of the pack, if he handles the Mormon issue well, if he can convince primary voters that the Republican candidate needn't be a Southerner...after a while those ifs start adding up.

Romney has a shot, but he's got a lot of work to's a credit to his seriousness that he recognizes this and has started early.


UPDATE 07/24/2005 10:56 p.m.:

see here...

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