Saturday, July 21, 2007
Mitt Romney - 2007
Utah Spirit Magazine
Driving through the rolling hills of New Hampshire about a year ago, then Gov. Mitt Romney contemplated a run for the White House.
“I’m not sure yet,” he said at the time. “We are definitely looking at it as a viable option, but right now there are no definite plans.”
What a difference a year can make in a person’s life. Romney has gone from not sure, to runner, and now poster child for the most intriguing presidential candidate. The handsome savior of the Salt Lake Olympics also happens to be a Mormon — which causes many to say a Mormon can’t be president in a tone similar to that once used concerning John F. Kennedy’s Catholic faith.
“I think a Mormon can be president, for sure,” Romney countered during that same country ride. “I think people are more interested in a man’s position on the issues than where he goes to church. Ultimately, however, the American people want a president who has values and some kind of faith. I’m not so sure people are concerned over which church that person attends per se.”
Not so fast.
In recent weeks, Romney has been grilled and, depending on whom you ask, attacked for his Mormon faith.
The infamous Mormons-aren’t-Christian jab that was quickly retracted by Rev. Al Sharpton, the film “September Dawn” (which looks at one of the church’s darkest moment in the Mountain Meadows Massacre) and even his being called a flip-flop candidate by many hasn’t seemed to hurt Romney. In fact, in the weeks after Mike Wallace of CBS’ “60 Minutes” was shut down when he attempted to stick his nose inside Romney’s bedroom and sexual past, this Republican candidate appears to be picking up steam.
But with all of this talk, Utahns still want to know where Romney stands on the issues important to the Commander in Chief, not whether he ever stepped off the straight-and-narrow Mormon path to salvation.
“It’s weird how all we seem to hear about when someone runs for President is things that don’t really matter,” says Jennifer Maltrose of Sandy. “I mean it’s nice that he was faithful to his wife, but would that make me vote or not vote for him? I doubt it.”
Highland resident Jonah Terangle agreed….to a point.
“I want a man of integrity in office so the morality of the man is important,” he says. “However, if everything else were equal and that was the one issue, I don’t think it would sway my vote one way or another.”
Neither of them have made up their minds as to whom they will vote for.
So, let’s take a look at where this Mormon presidential candidate stands on some important issues:
The War in Iraq
“There were definite mistakes made, and the situation is not perfect, but for us to pull out now with the job incomplete would be irresponsible,” Romney says.
Romney told an audience at Regent University in Virginia in May, “If there ever was a time for great Americans, great and good Americans, Americans who are willing to cross into the deep waters of life, it is now. You cross into the deep waters of life by marrying and raising good children. There is no work more important to America’s future than the work that is done within the four walls of the American home.…”
MSNBC reported that during the Presidential Debate in California, Romney said: “And this is a country that can get all of our people insured without a government takeover, without Hillary-Care, without socialized medicine. Instead, get the market to do its job; let people have health care that they can afford; people have the opportunity to choose policies in the private sector.”
As for the average tax-paying American citizen, Romney seemed ready to protect those hard workers when he said that same night, “I’d like middle-income Americans to be able to save their money and not have to pay any tax at all on interest, dividends or capital gains.”
And what of the man who enacted the most horrific attack on American soil? Romney sounded as if he were ready to personally hunt down Osama bin Laden when he said: “Of course we (can) get Osama bin Laden and track him wherever he has to go and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted on America. … We'll move everything to get him. But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there’s going to be another and another. … This is a global effort we’re going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It's more than Osama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die.”
Strong, powerful stances, no doubt, but as Peter Smith pointed out in his editorial for LifeSite.net, Romney may suffer from his stances on issues some see as helpful to a governor in liberal Massachusetts but that may be hard to comprehend in a GOP presidential want-to-be.
Smith wrote: “On abortion, Romney says he experienced a conversion and is now ‘firmly pro-life.’ Romney said he had an epiphany while researching cloning and embryonic stem-cell research in November 2004, where he realized that more than 30 years of Roe v. Wade had cheapened the sanctity of life in the United States…. However, Romney favors a minimal ‘federalist approach’ to restricting abortion, where the country would determine the fate of abortion on a state-by-state basis with abortion legal in ‘pro-choice’ states and banned in pro-life states and has repeated this to audiences on the campaign trail.”
In addition, Smith pointed out, “On the marriage issue, good leadership from Romney may have galvanized a waffling Massachusetts Legislature into defending their rights against the Goodridge decision, or at least force them to decide the matter and face the consequences from the voters. However, none of that happened. Same-sex ‘marriage’ has come to America, and the longer it stays the more entrenched it grows, and the more difficult it will be to eradicate it or stop its spread.”
People across the country and here in Utah have not missed these facts and some find them disturbing.
“I would rather have a person in office who is firm on things,” says Farmington resident Jake Knowles. “When someone takes a stand and sticks to it I can respect them more, even if I don’t agree with them, than I can a person who flip-flops — and I think Romney has flip- flopped on some issues.”
Knowles did acknowledge that people do change, but he finds Romney’s timing curious.
“It sure seems convenient.”
Others are not bothered by Romney’s seeming change on some issues.
“People change their minds, and if Mitt Romney saw something to make him change his mind on some issues, I don’t care,” says Bountiful’s Tanner Smith. “I like him. If the election were today, I’d vote for him. Perfect? No, none of the candidates are, but from top to bottom, I think he is the best man for the job.”
And others, especially in ever-important New Hampshire, seem to agree with Smith. According to nhpols.com, Romney is picking up steam.
In an article written for the political Web site, Beth LaMontagne wrote: “May has been a good month for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire campaign. Following his performance at the Republican presidential debate in California and a series of television ads, Romney saw a sizable jump in the polls. He has secured a number of important endorsements and has raised more campaign funds within the state than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat…A Survey USA/WBZ-TV Boston poll of New Hampshire Republican Primary voters conducted May 4 and 5 showed 32 percent support Romney. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani came in with 23 percent and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., with 22 percent. In a similar poll conducted by Survey USA in January, Romney was polling in third place with 21 percent. The poll release pointed to a rise in popularity among voters who support stem-cell research, but that Romney also held steady with those who oppose stem-cell research. He is polling high with New Hampshire pro-life voters and those who call themselves conservative.”
LaMontagne also pointed out, however, that she doesn’t believe Romney is picking up as much steam nationwide as some think.
“Nationwide polls, however, tell a different story,” she writes. “According to an American Research Group poll of Republicans across the country that was taken in May, Romney is in fourth place with 8 percent saying they’d be likely to vote for the former governor. The dichotomy between New Hampshire and the rest of the country has got the local chattering classes speculating about what actually has caused Romney’s boost in the important primary state. When the New Hampshire poll results were released, the local newspapers and blogs ran a series of pieces on the apparent Romney surge. Some speculated it was the television spots, others said it was because he is from a neighboring state. Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center said the answer is simple.
With the GOP nomination close to a year away, Romney, with Guiliani, McCain and others yet to be announced have a long battle ahead of them, but whether the Mormon guy is a true, legitimate candidate, the answer must be “yes.” Why else would anyone care what he was doing?
“I think he’s for real,” Maltrose says. “Look at the attention he is generating. That can’t be a bad thing.”
Or could it be?
It all depends on whom you ask.