Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has done just about everything wrong since being nominated at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, last month. Yet, while the momentum has dramatically shifted to President Barack Obama, it is not too late for Romney to win the White House.
Romney's road to self-destruction has been made particularly painful by the fact that many Republican pundits, and some Republican members of Congress, have now turned on him. Some of the criticism is so harsh that Ann Romney, the candidate's wife, defended him in an interview with an Iowa radio station. "Stop it!" Mrs. Romney said when asked what she had to say to her husband's critics, "This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the Ring." No doubt, many Republicans wish their wooden candidate had his wife's warmth and human touch.
But Mitt Romney is a CEO, a numbers man who enjoys crunching financial statements and developing profit-making strategies. Those strategies, which varied from business to business, were focused on delivering the maximum return on investment (ROI) for his investors. He would scrutinize every aspect of an acquisition, every accounting trick would be utilized, and every person would be evaluated, all in an effort to squeeze out ever-increasing profits. Those companies that could not be saved would then be sold off for a nice profit. To Romney, companies are people, and people are expendable in favor of profits.
Romney worked hard to build Bain Capital, an asset management firm he helped found in 1984. To raise capital for Bain, Romney courted wealthy investors. This was his comfort zone. He had spent his whole life around rich people, as the son of a car executive in Detroit, while studying business and law at Harvard, and attending exclusive clubs and tony fundraisers. He speaks the language.
So it is no surprise that Romney really connected with a group of wealthy political donors in Florida last May when he attacked those Americans who do not pay any federal income tax. He said, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what... who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that the government has a responsibility to care for them." He concluded, "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility for their lives."
However, it turns out that many of the 47 percent pay payroll taxes, or are on social security. In fact, a large share of these people are Republicans. But Romney was just telling his audience what they long believed and wanted to hear. Yet, now many leading Republicans are accusing the Romney campaign of incompetence. And, just when it seemed things couldn't get worse, Romney released his 2011 tax returns, thus unleashing a whole new controversy!
Campaign gaffs have plagued Romney, who has already been dogged by his many flip-flops on important issues. He insulted the British government while visiting the London Olympics. In an interview with ABC News he said, "My red line is Iran may not have a nuclear weapon." The very same position he has criticized President Obama for having. He hastily criticized President Obama for a Cairo embassy statement that was released hours before that facility was attacked. During the Republican primary he said, "Corporations are people," and "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me," and "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there."
Many Republicans are upset because Romney has yet to detail his plan for fixing the economy. Instead, Romney's campaign seems to be, "President Obama has failed, elect me and I'll fix it!" Many conservatives were encouraged when he selected Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate. But Romney has refused to embrace the radical Ryan budget plan, which has received broad support among conservatives. Ryan's budget calls for more tax reductions, steep budget cuts and turning Medicare into a voucher program. Romney's actions have confused many of his supporters and deepened their mistrust of the candidate.
Republicans are discouraged. Their hopes of winning the White House are slipping away. Worse for them, their hopes of winning control of the U.S. Senate are slipping away as well. Mitt Romney's only hope appears to be a decisive victory over the president in their upcoming debates. However, this may be a long shot for a man who once responded, "I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said, whatever it was."
So, if I were a Mitt Man, I might be considering Libertarian Gary Johnson.