Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17