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Mitt Romney: The Frontrunner for Now

The son of a prominent Michigan auto executive, Mitt Romney seems an ideal candidate for president. He has served as Mormon missionary, lead in business, headed the organizing committee of the Winter Olympics and effectively served as governor of the state of Massachusetts.


Willard Mitt Romney was born in 1947, the son of prominent Michigan auto executive George Romney. Like most young men in the LDS (Mormon) church, he served 2 ½ years as a missionary. Upon returning from his mission in France, he married his high school sweetheart, Ann Davies, and graduated as class valedictorian from Brigham Young University. From there Romney moved to Massachusetts and graduated from both Harvard Law and Harvard Business School with high honors.

Political Career

After a brief but successful career as a management consultant and then head of a private equity investment firm, Romney was ready to enter the world of politics. He won his first-ever bid for the Republican Senatorial candidate but had the dubious task of then running against longtime incumbent Ted Kennedy, one of the nation’s most famous liberals and an enormous force in state politics. The Kennedy campaign staff had no problem using a religious argument against Romney, which was ironic considering the vicious attack made on Jack Kennedy’s Catholicism when he ran for president in 1960. Though he ran a good campaign, the gap was far too wide to close and win the election.

Romney moved back to Utah in 1990 to assume leadership as the head of the organizing committee for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.  Though the Olympic effort had previously been plagued by scandal and financial problems, he was widely credited with the $100 million profit earned by the 2002 games, despite increased post-9/11 security costs.

By 2002 Mitt Romney had returned to Massachusetts to cash in on his business success by using his strong record of management expertise as a selling point in the 2002 gubernatorial election. He easily won the Republican primary and went on to defeat Democrat Shannon O’Brien by five points in the general election.

While governor, the state enacted a series of tax increases and rule changes, moving it from a $1.2 billion deficit to a $700 million surplus. During the same period, the Democratic state legislature moved state policy to the left, overturning innumerable vetoes. In the second year of his term, Governor Romney found his state at the center of major national controversy with the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the state. Romney was on record as opposing both gay marriage and civil unions but was forced to take center stage on the contentious issue. Since then, the governor has identified himself as a strong opponent of gay marriage but an equally vocal proponent of other civil rights for lesbians and homosexuals.

In 2006, Governor Romney made national news by signing the Massachusetts health reform law, the first statewide law mandating health insurance for all citizens and subsidizing the premiums of low income residence. This move has become a major sticking point among conservatives and libertarians and is consistently pointed to as an inconsistency when Romney attacks Obamacare.

With a long record of public office and an established web presence, Romney’s stances are a matter of common public record. Here is a synopsis of his platform as gleaned from his official campaign web site.

The Role of Government and Economic Issues

Health Care Reform

Foreign Policy


Romney has now made one major run for the Republican nomination and now is the definite front runner in the upcoming primaries. In spite of this, a number of questions still loom in the background of his presidential aspirations. Most of those questions center on belief (backed by some polls), suggesting that both evangelical Christians and the non-religious alike may find voting for a Mormon complicated.  There is also the widespread perception that Romney is really a moderate seeking to appeal to the conservative right to win the conservative-dominated GOP primary.

There is no doubt in these hard economic times that his track record as a businessman and budget-balancing governor are definitely in his favor. With his classical “presidential look,” winning smile, and spotless record as a family man, he makes a strong contrast with several of his competitors and remains the most traditional candidate running in a very traditional party.

However, there are some worrisome things about Mitt Romney. His platform is strong on rhetoric but sometimes perceived as weak on real substance. Many in the more conservative wing of the Republican Party see John McCain written all over his candidacy.  In a time when it seems people are looking for a reason to vote against President Obama, Romney may be just the ticket they are looking for. Or, too many may see him as more of the same and decide to go for a candidate who offers a clear contrast.