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February 4, 2008

Why I Support Mitt Romney: Leadership Substance


The dynamics of political party connections, the political process itself and public perceptions have once again yielded the top two contenders of each major party in the 2008 presidential race. And once again, the public can only hope that the ultimate winner of the White House will be a candidate with the most leadership substance.


My vote is for Mitt Romney.


History is important, but the future is more important. Making history is nice, but nice can’t make critical decisions. The success of this country in the future will be shaped by the leadership abilities of the next president.


Our success will not be based on opinion polls, pandering to the uninformed voters, promising emotional quick fixes over common sense, nitpicking of opponents’ past records or mastering the art of the media sound bite. Success will come from focusing on the right problems and solving those problems. That will mean making tough decisions about some problems that have been with us for decades. It will also mean taking a tough stand on new problems and challenges.


That’s what leaders do.


Mitt Romney has done that as a chief executive officer in business, as a governor and as head of the U.S. Olympics. He has done so while balancing political consequences, but not compromising fundamental principles of the founding of this country or free-market economics. We have prospered as a nation by strengthening those principles, and will not remain strong if we allow those principles to become diluted with a lack of leadership.


Anyone who wishes to find a reason not to vote for Romney can easily find one. But the reasons to vote for him are far more compelling. He has successfully managed a real business with other people’s money and some of his own. He has balanced budgets. He successfully led a turnaround situation with the Olympics. And he has spent more of his career outside government than inside.


On the other hand, John McCain has spent more of his career inside government than outside, and the reasons not to vote for him as the Republican nominee are very compelling.


He voted against letting people keep more of their money in 2001 and 2003 when President Bush pushed through his tax cuts. He has been part of the escalation of the federal debt during his 20-plus years in the U.S. Senate. He showed questionable leadership on a failed immigration bill that was rejected by the public. And he showed no leadership by failing to support the president’s efforts to establish personal retirement accounts – a proposal that would have started to fix the coming financial train wreck in the Social Security system.


That’s not leadership.


I do not question the character, integrity or sincerity of either Mitt Romney or John McCain, nor do I question their desire to do what’s best for the country if elected. I do not worry, as some people do, that they would fan the flames of social and religious differences. My focus is on their prospective leadership relative to national security, the economy, federal spending, free-market health care solutions and the elimination of dysfunctional programs.


Mitt Romney’s history is more indicative of the substance needed to make major progress on critical issues, and not just to make more politically palatable incremental changes in Washington D.C.


Media momentum and campaign funding aside, there are several other Republican presidential candidates who would not cause me to worry about our grandchildren’s future. The two leading Democratic presidential candidates, however, would cause me great concern because of their severe lack of leadership substance and their policy proposals.


This is despite Barack Obama’s appeal and strong public perception, but entirely consistent with Hillary Clinton’s self-proclaimed, invisible experience.


Great leaders are born and good leaders keep working on it. We are not favored with an obvious great leader in the 2008 presidential race, as is apparent from the primary process and the results thus far.


But Mitt Romney’s leadership credentials offer the best hope of a leader with substance, and the best hope for a good president who could turn out to be great.


Herman Cain is a radio talk show host on WSB 750 AM in Atlanta, airing weeknights from 7-10 p.m. He is also a syndicated columnist with North Star Writers Group.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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