If there could possibly be a centilla of doubt that Mitt Romney would enter the 2012 Republican field, it was stomped out Wednesday afternoon when the former Massachusetts Governor and 2008 GOP Presidential aspirant officially kicked off his Presidential campaign.
Standing before a crowd of supporters outside a farm in southern New Hampshire, Romney hammered President Obama for his handling of an anemic economy, the increase in the size of the Federal Government.
Government under President Obama has grown to consume almost 40% of our economy. We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy. I will cap federal spending at 20% or less of the GDP and finally, finally balance the budget.
In what appeared to be a move to reach out to both tea party supporters and libertarians; as well as perhaps defend himself against claims that the health care law he passed as governor in 2006 mirrors that passed by President Obama; Romney called for delegating many of the duties and power of the federal government back to the states.
I will insist that Washington learns to respect the Constitution, including the 10th Amendment. We will return responsibility and authority to the states for dozens of government programs – and that begins with a complete repeal of Obamacare.
Romney slammed Obama for seeing “America differently” and accusing the President of “seeking European answers to American challenges.” The bulk of Romney’s remarks though focused on his business experience and his ability to create jobs.
From my first day in office my number one job will be to see that America once again is number one in job creation. You know, if you want to create jobs, it helps to have had a job. I will make business taxes competitive with other nations, modernize regulations and bureaucracy and finally promote America’s trade interests. It’s time for a president who cares more about America’s workers than he does about America’s union bosses.
Romney’s emphasis on job creation in a tough economy is a wise tact. Poll after poll shows it is the top concern of most Americans. The message was a stark contrast to Romney’s 2008 campaign which due to his time as Governor of Massachusetts (one of the most liberal state’s in the country that in 2004 legalized gay marriage), and his own inconsistencies on a litany of issues; seemed to lack a coherent message.
Liberal bloggers such as the Democratic Underground and Blue Mass Group responded by pointing to a study by an independent think tank that ranked Massachusetts 49th in job creation between 2001 and 2006, and that during Romney’s tenure as Governor between 2003 and 2007 the number of jobs in the state grew by a meer 0.9%.
Romney’s past support for an individual mandate requiring Massachusetts residents to get health insurance or pay a fine, the tendency to vacillate on the issues which seemed to define his image in the mind of voters in his 2008 failed bid for his party’s nomination, and his seeming inability to relate to voters or excite conservatives; will likely continue to dog him.
That notwithstanding Romney also has substantial strengths in his quest for the nomination, as many political prognosticators have stated. So let me just regurgitate all those that are repeatedly cited by the pundits for you.
The Republican party usually tends to coalesce around a candidate who had run before in the primaries but lost. It happened in 2008 with John McCain, 1996 with Bob Dole, 1988 with George H.W Bush, etc. If the anti-incumbant fervor of the more populist factions of the party can be quelled and history is any guide, that bodes well for Romney.
Having been a candidate previously Romney has also gone through the vetting process on the national stage and crafted some campaign infrastructure in key primary states leftover from the Republican primaries in 2008. He also has name recognition, and can tap both his own personal fortune and a pool of donors that can net him $10.25 million in one day. No question assets in both a primary and going up against an incumbent president in a general election.
Romney has so far also managed to keep his distance from much of the more divisive issues such as the birther canard, the controversial Arizona immigration law, and the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy.
Still, the polls have fluctuated in the past months. Romney currently holds a lead in New Hampshire the state with the first in the nation primary, but polls and the GOP field remain unsettled to say the least, as Republican voters survey the prospective candidates to see who can both unite conservatives as well as attract both independents and disaffected Democrats.