Monday, April 23, 2018
Opinion

To win, first Romney must dare

Hard-core Democrats and hard-core Republicans should both face a tough truth: Both sides have been largely wrong about the presidential race all year.

Democrats have wishfully seized on every GOP circus-like moment — from Donald Trump to Todd Akin — in the hope that Republicans will seem so out of the mainstream that even a bad economy wouldn't keep Barack Obama from re-election.

And Republicans, if they are being honest, have secretly (and sometimes not-so-secretly) felt that Mitt Romney just doesn't have what it takes to win in November. There's the "too stiff" caucus, the "too rich" group, the "too craven" contingent.

And yet here we are, in the last of August and the first of September, and Romney is tied, if not a tiny bit ahead, in national polls. Despite his own weaknesses as a candidate and a wretched run for the Republican brand — a historical slide that began with the collapse of the Gingrich revolution in the late 1990s that accelerated with the wild spending spree of the George W. Bush years — Romney has a real chance to become the 45th president of the United States.

He has a moment to seize, and he has to do what he appears to dislike most — take a risk — in order to seize it. His place in the polls at the moment can be largely chalked up to external forces — chiefly, of course, the virtually nonexistent recovery and the uncertainty the business community feels over taxes and regulation under Obama.

The past tells us that externalities can put you in the game, but it takes a real leader to cross the goal line. In 1980, the weak economy and sense of national drift gave Ronald Reagan an opening, but he was even with President Carter or trailing through much of the fall. It was only in the last week of the campaign, in the Cleveland debate, that Reagan showed America (and the world) his special gift of speaking with conviction and charm that led voters to bury Carter in a landslide. Reagan had a moment to seize, and he seized it.

Eight years later, Michael Dukakis came out of the Atlanta convention with a huge lead. Sure, his miscues — the helmet in the tank and all of that — gave George H.W. Bush an opening, but Bush grabbed it with a powerful convention speech that showed Americans a steel and a passion for service that resonated. Bush had a moment to seize, and he seized it.

Now it's Romney's turn. It could be a speech or a moment on the trail or, most likely, a cumulative impression left in the debates. Romney's been given a great gift, something few men in American history have ever had: a real shot at the presidency. To close the deal he's going to have to convince Americans that he's not just a manager or a reassuring presence, but that he's got the wherewithal to make tough fiscal choices before the American Dream sustains irrevocable damage.

It's your moment, Mitt. Make the most of it. We're here and we're listening.

A guest columnist for POLITICO, Joe Scarborough hosts "Morning Joe" on MSNBC and represented Florida's 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001.

© 2012 Politico

Comments

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18