Wednesday, June 20, 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
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18