Charlie Leonard: Inalianable Rights
Since Mitt Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination for president a few weeks ago, the Democrats have been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him.
In tens of millions of dollars of advertising and nonstop campaigning by the president, Romney has taken an (unfair) beating over his years at Bain Capital, his wealth, his tax bill, his wife’s hobbies and more.
As one joke making its way around the Internet put it, “By now we are supposed to be more angry about how Mitt Romney spends his money than we are about how the president spends our money!”
Yet after this two-month barrage by Barack Obama and his surrogates, the polls say the former Massachusetts governor is essentially in a statistical dead heat with a sitting president.
Not only that – Romney is now on pace to raise more money than Obama, including a record number of small donors, despite the president’s attendance at more fundraisers than any incumbent president in history.
You would think, then, that most Republicans would be starting to feel pretty good about our chances in the fall.
Not so fast.
As it turns out, a number of self-appointed experts in the Republican ranks have started to carp that Romney’s campaign is all screwed up.
According to some high-profile business types who have never set one foot in a campaign headquarters, and even a writer or two on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Romney’s campaign is too insular. Romney is not making the case for defeating Obama. Romney’s not conservative enough. Romney is too wooden and can’t relate to people. He’s not specific enough. And on and on and on they blab.
And oh, by the way – they are just trying to be helpful.
Well, for the record-breaking number of Republican Party faithful (and more than a few self-identified Democrats and independents, as well) who turned out on Tuesday night in Aspen to support Romney’s campaign, it was pretty clear that the naysayers are dead wrong.
Romney spoke for nearly 30 minutes in inspired tones on a broad range of issues facing the country. He laced his remarks with a tremendous amount of specificity, just the right amount of humor and a genuine compassion for all the people in this country still suffering under the strain of a failed economy.
The Republican nominee told several very moving stories about real-life Americans he’s met around the country who have built successful small businesses from scratch but now worry about their ability to grow their businesses and the ranks of their employees.
Like he did during his years as a business-turnaround expert, Romney also said he would focus like a laser beam on a five-point plan once elected president.
He said he would reverse the president’s anti-energy policies and support domestic energy production, including natural gas and oil exploration, as well as the Keystone pipeline.
He said that unlike president Obama, who has shown no interest in trade agreements, that he would immediately engage in trade talks to open up new markets to American goods and services.
The former governor also promised to prevent the country from going off a “fiscal cliff” in January, and make the current tax rates permanent.
He said he would fight for more choice in education. And, he capped his plan with a rousing promise to renew our spirit of freedom and independence and our God-given “right to life, liberty and (especially) the pursuit of happiness.”
When his remarks were finished, the governor worked the room with total ease, leaving no doubt to the assembled crowd that he is clearly as comfortable in his own skin as he is in the company of strangers.
He joked, he listened, and he made sure to say how grateful he was for everyone’s support. And, he made one thing abundantly clear – he knows exactly what he’s doing and what he’s doing is working.
Make no mistake, this election is likely to be a cliffhanger. We are a nation divided along a partisan fault line and no campaign trickery is going to substantially alter the highly competitive dynamic of our national politics. The best Republicans can hope for is a competent candidate who has the necessary discipline and resources to wage a competitive campaign and can articulate a clear vision, distinct from the one being pursued by President Obama.
After seeing Mitt Romney up close and personal on Tuesday, I’m convinced he’s every bit that candidate and more.
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