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Mitt Romney, as expected, announced his intention to run for the White House in 2012. Introduced by his wife Anne to a crowd of supporters in Stratham, NH, the former governor of Massachusetts delivered the opening salvo of his campaign. “Barack Obama has failed America,” he said. Romney joins a crowded field of contenders, including former Utah Governor John Huntsman, and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) who, along with possible candidate Sarah Palin, are blitzing the Granite State. Other potential candidates include former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza chain Herman Cain, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
As of now, Romney is the leader of the pack, due in large part to his previous candidacy in 2008, and his name recognition. Yet he is emblematic of a Republican field in which each candidate has something to offer, but each carries around some sort of perceived baggage that may prove ultimately detrimental, as Americans begin to pay closer attention.
Romney’s baggage, as least as far as the conservative wing of the Republican party is concerned, might be better described as a steamer trunk: the Massachusetts healthcare reform bill he signed into law in 2006. Now known derisively as RomneyCare, the law contains the same mandate forcing individuals to buy health insurance as ObamaCare does, a reality which drives conservatives crazy. Adding to Romney’s woes is the fact that Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod recently noted that RomneyCare was the blueprint for ObamaCare.
Yet rather than distance himself from the plan, Romney has gone on the offensive, contending it was “a state solution to a state problem, and [president Obama’s] plan is a power grab by the federal government to put a one-size-fits-all plan across the nation,” as he told a group of doctors and other supporters at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor in May. He reiterated the “state solution to a state problem” motif in his speech yesterday, even as he admitted the program was “not perfect.”
Whether his efforts to defuse his biggest liability plays with Tea Party conservatives remains to be seen, but during his speech he offered much that is attractive to that part of the Republican base. “Turning around a crisis takes bold action…I will cap federal spending at 20 percent or less of the economy, and finally, finally balance the budget…My generation will pass the torch to the next generation, not a bill…and that will begin with a complete repeal of ObamaCare,” said Romney to a crowd of cheering supporters.
Noting that he intends to make America “number one in job creation,” Mr. Romney took another obvious swipe at the president. “You know, if you want to create jobs, it helps to have actually had a job. I had one,” he cracked. He then directed his fire at one of the Mr. Obama’s core constituencies. “It’s time for a president who cares more about America’s workers than about America’s union bosses,” he added.
Romney spoke about his father “who never graduated college” yet went on to be the owner of a car company and “end[ed] up governor in the state where he sold aluminum paint,” because America “was the land of opportunity.” Mr. Romney then took on the president yet again, this time for Mr. Obama’s take on American exceptionalism. “I refuse to believe America is just another place on the map with a flag. We stand for freedom and opportunity and hope,” he said, adding that while “we may have lost a couple of years, we have not lost our way.” He ended his speech with the announcement of his candidacy.
Can Romney capture the nomination? He certainly says many of the right things in terms of economics. Perhaps just as importantly, in a time where the Obama administration has shown a grim determination to undermine states’ rights, best exemplified by the immigration lawsuit against Arizona, the NLRB’s lawsuit against Boeing, and yesterday’s White House rejection of an Indiana law cutting off abortion funding for Planned Parenthood, Romney’s determination to “return the responsibility and authority to the states for dozens of programs,” is sure to resonate. So are his economic credentials this time around, as opposed to the 2008, where prior to the financial crisis which occurred after McCain was nominated, national security issues were far more important.
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