|A New Script for Mitt|
By Troy Senik
Thursday, May 31 2012
Even before he wrapped up the Republican nomination for president earlier this week with a victory in the Texas primary, Mitt Romney had much to be proud of. He has been a phenomenally successful businessman; the savior of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City; governor of a state with more than six million inhabitants, and a distinguished philanthropist and family man.
One area where Romney has been less than sublime, however, is as a public speaker. This is the man, after all, who told voters in his native Michigan that his affection for his home state stemmed partly from the fact that “the trees are the right height,” an unfortunate turn of phrase that invites the listener to picture the man who could be the next President of the United States as an overofficious zoning inspector.
Even while making reasonable points, the Republican nominee has a tendency to deliver them in as infelicitous a fashion as possible, saying, for instance, “I’m not concerned about the very poor” when resisting further welfare spending or declaring “I like to fire people” when trying to make the point that individuals should be able to deal directly with their health insurance providers – and drop them if necessary.
With approximately five months of campaigning – and hundreds of millions of dollars backing the campaign of his opponent – ahead of him, it’s time for Romney to sharpen his rhetorical tools. Herewith are a few suggestions for how to do so:
Bain Capital – Romney’s experience in the private sector has come under fire from Barack Obama and his surrogates, who claim that Romney’s time running the investment firm Bain Capital says nothing about his ability to create jobs, since Bain’s focus was maximizing profits rather than increasing hires. Romney can respond to this charge thusly:
“The president questions my experience in the private sector because he says that I was more focused on making money than creating jobs. The fact that he thinks those two goals are opposed to each other tells you why this country has gotten into such deep economic trouble. If business owners don’t make a profit, then they can’t afford to hire new employees. And if they hire more people than is financially responsible, then they imperil their company and put everyone’s job at risk.
“Now, these are not profound observations about the way the economy works. They are things that everyone who’s ever had to meet a payroll – whether at a mom and pop store or a major corporation – understands instinctively. So what does it say that they’re concepts that seem to be too complicated for the President of the United States to understand? I stand proudly by my record. And there’s a reason that this President – who’s presided over the 30 worst months of unemployment in the past 25 years – refuses to stand by his.”
Education – Like many national Republican candidates, Romney faces an uphill battle in appealing to black and Hispanic voters, a difficulty he can seek to ameliorate by pointing out how badly America’s public schools are failing minority students throughout the nation:
“It’s a sad irony of this administration that President Obama – who rode into office bolstered by the support of young voters inspired by his massage of hope and change – has done so much to snuff out the dreams of America’s youth. If our young people are truly to believe in hope, it has to start in the classroom – in the belief that every American, regardless of race, class, color or creed, has a shot at a better life through a quality education. But today, the facts cannot support that belief. Too many schools throughout our nation – particularly in some of America’s poorest communities – trap children in a spiral of failure, with pitiful or non-existent academic standards, rampant cultures of violence and workplaces where the interests of teachers unions outrank those of students.
“It has been said, correctly, that education is the civil rights issue of our time. That’s true – and with tragic results. The last time that the civil rights debate touched our nation’s schools, we saw education officials barring the classroom doors to keep minority students out. Today, we see them barring the doors to keep them locked in.
“Nothing threatens the bureaucratic establishment in American education more than the idea of school choice – the idea that your place of birth or your parents’ financial standing should not have to be an academic death sentence served out in a failing school. And, indefensibly, the unions that would deprive children and parents of choice have the president as an ally. The president, who attended one of Hawaii’s most elite prep schools on a scholarship. The president, whose daughters attend one of the most prestigious private schools in Washington D.C.
“Now, I don’t begrudge the Obamas their educations. Far from it. I simply want more students to have those kinds of opportunities – and I resent when the federal government prevents that from happening. I resent the fact that the president thinks that poor, minority students shouldn’t have the same shot that he did. I resent the fact that he has repeatedly voiced his support for terminating the Opportunity Scholarship program in Washington D.C., which allows poor black students in the District to attend schools like the ones his daughters attend. And I resent the fact that this president – whose fellow-travelers are constantly telling us how the one percent abuse the 99 percent – is lending his support to policies that have created nothing less than a caste system in American education.”
Energy – With gas prices an evergreen issue – and the push for alternative energy a hallmark of the Obama Administration – Romney can push back forcefully against Obama’s dismal energy record:
“For the past decade, liberals like President Obama have done what they always do – they’ve attempted to turn an honest disagreement over public policy into a sign that their opponents are intellectually or morally deficient. As a result, you’ve probably heard that Republicans are “waging a war on science.” That’s the left’s way of letting you know that they’re the party of reason, rationality and empiricism. But let’s take that thesis out for a spin.
“If Democrats are the party of science, why did they commit over a half-billion taxpayer dollars to Solyndra, a solar energy boondoggle so deeply flawed that it went into bankruptcy? If they’re the party of science, why was President Obama touting the virtues of using algae as a fuel source – a completely untested method – while preventing us from getting more oil from the Gulf of Mexico or building the Keystone Pipeline – efforts that would bring fuel sources that we know actually work to market? And if the Democrats live their lives in the service of sweet reason, why are they spending $16 billion a year on subsidizing alternative energy when we have the example of places like Spain – where every new ‘green job’ cost more than two jobs elsewhere in the economy?
“I have no problem with alternative energy. If fuel sources like wind, solar, biofuels … and yes, even algae … can provide reliable energy to Americans at a price they’re willing to pay, then I welcome them to the market. But what I will not stand for is the vicious cycle of Americans seeing their hard-earned dollars siphoned off to subsidize failing alternative energy companies while the price of conventional fuels like gasoline skyrockets because the federal government is blocking energy exploration.”
For over three years now, conservatives have been itching for an opportunity to challenge Barack Obama on his record head on. Mitt Romney now has that chance. Let’s hope he rises to the occasion.
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