Mitt Romney vulnerable in SC

Mitt Romney. Will Hurricane Sandy give him New Jersey, though he didn't even campaign here?
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Mitt Romney is still the nominal Republican front-runner in South Carolina and the country But his support, while broad, is shallow. Many of the attacks on him are specious, but still emotionally telling. And on some issues, that no one has yet raised, he is extremely vulnerable.

Jon Huntsman endorses Mitt Romney

This morning, as he said he would, former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) dropped out of the race and endorsed Mitt Romney. In so doing, Huntsman said that Mitt Romney was the man best able to “help our cause.”

But then Huntsman said something else:

At its core, the Republican Party is a party of ideas, but the current toxic form of our political discourse does not help our cause.

That was a clear reference to Huntsman’s other rivals. Newt Gingrich especially, and also Rick Perry, attacked Romney for his association with Bain Capital. (Rick Santorum and Ron Paul did not.) Robert Eberly at GOPusa severely criticized Huntsman for saying the above.

Politics is a tough business. The winner of the GOP race will have to face Obama and his Chicago machine. The winner must be ready, and a tough GOP primary race is the way to do it.

Perhaps. But whether Mitt Romney truly is or can be ready is a different question.

The Bain Capital Question

Mitt Romney

Former Governor Mitt Romney at a townhall in Sun Lakes, Arizona. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License

A “super-PAC” calling itself “Winning Our Future” produced this 27-minute video (“When Mitt Romney came to town”) to describe Mitt Romney and the private equity firm he ran, named Bain Capital. Bain Capital invested in several companies that are American household names (Domino’s Pizza, Staples, The Sports Authority, etc.). But it also invested in other firms that later liquidated.

The true perspective on Bain Capital is this:

  • Proportion of firms that Bain Capital invested in, that failed in the end: 30 percent.
  • Proportion of those same firms that might have failed had Bain Capital not intervened: near 100 percent.

The reason: Bain Capital did not invest in perfectly healthy firms that would not need anyone to infuse more capital in them. It invested in firms that needed its money and advice. Seven times out of ten, that advice paid off, both for the firm involved and for Bain Capital. (In fact, the Obama administration asked Bain Capital’s advice on how to handle its takeover of General Motors. It did not ask that firm for advice on how to invest in Solyndra and other “green energy” firms. Some observers say that maybe it should have.)

So an attack on Romney based on what Bain Capital did in a few sad cases is specious. But Nick Purpura, a former manager at Bear Stearns, pointed out to CNAV another issue that the critics have missed:

Mitt Romney was doing what his investors expected him to do: make money for them. He did this by taking over companies in trouble, cutting out deadwood, and making them profitable again. But that does not work in government, because government does not exist to make a profit for anybody!

In other words, Mitt Romney’s experience at Bain would not serve him well as President. So the correct record to judge him on is not his record at Bain, but his record as governor of Massachusetts. The good news: he cut taxes and balanced the budget. The bad news: he proposed a universal health-care system that Barack Obama boasted of using as his model. He also showed a less-than-healthy respect for the Second Amendment to the Constitution. (Worse yet, he supported the Troubled Asset Rescue Plan (TARP) of 2008, one of the things that conservatives hate worst of all.)

Another Tea Party activist, Israel Teitelbaum, told CNAV that the video, whether true or not, would sink Mitt Romney in the general election.

Obama has a billion dollars to play with! He has the money to place a CD with that video in the mailbox of every voter in the country who does not have e-mail!

He would do that, says Teitelbaum, because it makes Mitt Romney look like the stereotypical heartless capitalist that they say that all capitalists are. In short, that video makes Bain Capital look like the fictitious firm of Scrooge and Marley in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (Whether the Obama campaign would be liable to a lawsuit for copyright violation, by distributing video content to which they owned no rights, is another matter.)

More general weakness

Last week, The Washington Post suggested that the battle that Mitt Romney had to fight in New Hampshire caused “lasting damage.” The damage is this: Mitt Romney does not seem to be a man of the people, but more like the scion of a political dynasty. This is exactly what many voters do not want to vote for. Voters also see in him a man of inherited wealth, who did not “make himself” and whose father largely handed things to him.

Bitter opposition

Mitt Romney has two especially bitter opponents, each with a dedicated following. One is Newt Gingrich. He has never forgiven Romney for the “attack ads” that his campaign ran against Gingrich in Iowa. Winning Our Future supports Gingrich and makes no secret of that.

The other is Ron Paul—or not so much Ron Paul as his followers. Ron Paul did not attack Mitt Romney on the Bain Capital association. But his followers (like Bob Livingston, editor of the Personal Liberty Digest) see Romney as a liberal, not even the “moderate” that Gingrich calls him. Today (probably before Jon Huntsman dropped out) Livingston accused Republican leaders of “form[ing] a circular firing squad” by pre-determining to nominate Romney and exclude all others.

Romney has received endorsements from two of the party’s biggest losers: Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Dole. With friends like those, no wonder the proles are looking elsewhere.

McCain and Dole are both nominees who lost their respective elections.

Romney, a Massachusetts liberal, abortion supporter, TARP supporter, stimulus supporter, cap-and-trade supporter, believer in big government, war-loving, anti-gun crusader is the choice of the party’s insiders. But according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, almost three out of four of potential Republican voters want the nominee to be someone else.

That is true. Mitt Romney wins slightly more than twenty-five percent of the vote. He keeps the lead because his rivals split the vote almost evenly among them.

The South Carolina debate is slightly more than an hour and a quarter away at the time of posting. The primary takes place on Saturday. Anything less than a clear majority vote will be yet another sign of weakness.

Related:

Mitt Romney birthright red herring

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

3 Responses to Mitt Romney vulnerable in SC

  1. egarners says:

    Well, Romney is just a neocon, the same as all the other candidates except Ron Paul. Any critical thinker should be able to connect the dots and see the mainstream media and Republican Party are controlled (owned) by an oligarchy of banksters and big corporate monopolists. That’s why Ron Paul gets little coverage from the media and what he does get is generally negative.

    Ron Paul has a consistent record of supporting the Constitution and liberty, in opposition to most of our other representatives. He also has a moral and ethical compass that always points in the direction of liberty and freedom and he knows the difference between defense and imperialist meddling that we have pursued for the last 50+ years.

    If we had followed the Constitution for last century, we would not be in the mess we are in today, and Ron Paul knows that. Nothing or anyone is perfect, but Ron Paul is the only candidate that gives ‘we the people’ a chance against the tyranny of the oligarchy.

    Go ahead and vote for the status quo and enjoy the coming police state and all the trappings of fascistic tyranny that your two party hoax is enabling.

  2. DinsdaleP says:

    Nick Purpura, a former manager at Bear Stearns, pointed out to CNAV another issue that the critics have missed:

    Mitt Romney was doing what his investors expected him to do: make money for them. He did this by taking over companies in trouble, cutting out deadwood, and making them profitable again. But that does not work in government, because government does not exist to make a profit for anybody!

    It’s a shame Huntsman never caught on. He’s an intelligent, thoughtful leader who had a good record in governing Utah, and put country before personal interest in serving as ambassodor to China. To further that last point, I never understood how conservatives could criticize Huntsman for serving under the Obama administration in this key role. There is probably no other nation whose policies and actions can impact us to the degree China can, especially on the economic and trade fronts, so if you want to have conservative “skin in the game” where U.S.-China policy is concerned, what better way to do that but to have the primary American player on the ground there be a conservative? Not many “career” politicians would have put country first like that.

    This story’s about Romney, though. Experience in the business world is useful, but the reality is that leadership and political skills count a lot more when someone actually takes the oath of office. Presidents are not CEOs – they have to work with a Congress that may or may not be led by an opposing party, and deal with a global landscape where the stakes are measured in lives, not just earnings and shareholder value.

    He did serve as a governor, but his record there says three things:

    First, he’ll say he stands for whatever most of the electorate want to hear, to the point that one really can’t tell what the man actually stands for at his core. People grow & learn, and viewpoints can change, but by our 30’s we should know ourselves well enough to have core values that people can identify us with – Romney doesn’t.

    Second, his record speaks for how he would govern, and it angers me that he tries to disavow his actions rather than account for them. Romneycare imposed a mandate on all counties of his state – no choice if any region wanted out, or the economics wouldn’t work. To me, there’s no philosophical difference between “states rights” and “county rights” when it comes to mandates – only a difference in scale. He can’t tout the benefits of Romneycare being a state choice while talking about the repeal of Obamacare as Federal overreach, because driving a policy that imposed a single solution on the entire population he governed costs him all credibility on that topic.

    Finally, he shows the worst traits of evasiveness, weasel words and obstruction in his actions, making one question how transparent & accountable a Romney administration would be to the people who elected him. He can’t even give a clear Yes/No answer to whether he’d release his tax records voluntarily by a certain date. (The real answer, of course, is “Not if I can help it”) He hedges most answers on difficult issues, has taken MAJOR flip-flops on key positions in an opportunistic way, and allowed the scrubbing of electronic records by his key staff as he left the governor’s office. (Technically not illegal the way they set up the rules, but I consider ANY work-related records kept by government staff to be the property of the citizens, not the departing staff. Imagine a stockholder discovering that employees were destroying corporate records without permission to avoid accountability down the road. I don’t see “Romney the businessman” having a problem with treating citizens different than shareholders, though).

    Evasiveness, inconsistency and a penchant for “burning the evidence” over open accountability. Not the strongest candidate for any party to put forward as the frontronner.

    Still, Romney’s the most likely outcome at this point, and it won’t be due to his strenghts but rather the lack of any better option from a historically weak field. It wouldn’t surprise me if he picks Christie or even Santorum to be his running mate either, to soften the indigestion for the GOP.

    • DinsdaleP says:

      Those first 2 paragraphs were a cut-and-paste glitch. Wasn’t trying to recycle comments already made in the article.

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