Team Romney, and Republicans in general, are making a lot of noise about President Obama's record on the economy. Romney harps on what he calls the president's "failed" economic leadership. Since Romney wants to make 2012 a referendum on the Obama record, it might be instructive to take a look at his.
For starters, Mr. Romney was a one-term governor of Massachusetts who served from January, 2003 through January, 2007, and dropped his bid for re-election. While Romney replaced a Republican, he was succeeded by a Democrat. How's that for a referendum on someone's record?
The only other bid for elected office Mr. Romney made was when he ran against incumbent Teddy Kennedy for the Massachusetts Senate back in 1994, a race Romney lost handily. Romney should be careful about using that infamous four letter word, "fail," on anyone lest it be applied on him.
You'll recall, too, that Romney ran for the Republican presidential nomination back in 2008. And, while he won numerous primaries and caucuses, he ultimately lost the nomination to John McCain.
So, as he lambasts President Obama who, so far, has prevailed in every election bid he has made, here's a tip for Governor Romney. When campaigning, he would be wise to avoid the following three subjects:
1) Approval ratings: The year he left office as Massachusetts Governor, Romney's approval hovered around 34 percent. True, as CBS News reports, that's higher than another prominent high profile Republican's approval ratings, George W. Bush's, when he left office. When Bush left 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, his final approval rating was 22 percent, among the lowest of any American president.
Still, keep in mind that 34 percent is lower than President Obama's approval numbers have been at any point in more than three years since he took office. In fact, while Obama's approval ratings hit a speed bump in 2010, they've been steadily inching up and, according to Gallup, Obama now stands at 46 percent which means if this were to be the president's last year in office, he would enjoy a double digit lead in approval rating over Gov. Romney.
2) Job growth and the unemployment figures: Anybody who watched the first Republican caucuses a few months ago ought to thank Newt Gingrich for his infomercial on Romney's stewardship of Bain Capital and the practice of leveraged buyouts. If Gingrich's explanation of leveraged buyouts isn't enough for you, go back and listen to what then incumbent Senator Kennedy had to say on the subject of layoffs at Bain Capital plants, and a business ethos that exploits workers for capital gains. Oh, and Romney might want to avoid the subject of job creation altogether given that Massachusetts was 47th out of 50 states in putting people to work when Romney was governor.
3) National security: This one is a no-brainer, even for the presumptive Republican nominee. You haven't heard Romney talk much about foreign policy, and you won't either because not only has he never held an elected office that required him to make decisions that affect national security, but Mr. Romney never even served in the military. As is widely known, he was a missionary in France, of all places, during the Vietnam War. So, should Romney become the next president of the United States, he will have one big thing in common with his immediate Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. Both managed to avoid service in Vietnam. As you know, it was Bush who put the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan, and who brought Baghdad to its knees. Romney has already suggested he's gearing up to be on the war path with Syria, and Iran.
One shudders to think of diplomacy Romney-style as something one might wear on a holster on one's hip.
The president, and others, have been asking that Romney release his tax returns, something he has yet to do except for his 2010 return, for which he filed an extension, but tax returns are the least of his problems. There's nothing that could be found there, at this point, that would come as an egregious surprise to anyone. We all expect to see not only the proverbial Swiss bank account, but some mention of the Cayman Islands, as well as ongoing interest in, and profit from puppet companies he has set up for his son which essentially act as tax shelters.
There are others who want to make an issue of Romney's Mormon faith, and how large a role Mormonism plays in his life. Yes, it's true that if, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy, Romney's Mormon faith would in any way interfere with his judgments on key social, or national security issues that face him as president, he should do as JFK said, and offer to step down. You can bet that wouldn't happen though. You can also bet that, if given a first term, Romney would say and do anything necessary to win a second term.
It's hard to demonize Mitt Romney. He's affable enough, and arguably his greatest virtue is appearing relatively harmless, but if he wants to make a serious run for the White House, he'd better avoid any mention of approval ratings, jobs growth, or national security. If he wants to talk about the weather, that suits me just fine.