Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Editorials

Republican nominee Mitt Romney must fill in the blanks

After 18 months of campaigning, hundreds of millions of dollars and more than 70,000 television ads, Mitt Romney has yet to connect with the nation. As former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour joked this week, all many voters know about Romney is what his opponents have told them: "He's a wealthy plutocrat married to a known equestrian.''

Romney can change the arc of that story line tonight in Tampa as he accepts the Republican nomination for president. For all of the money and television ads, he remains a distant figure with a murky agenda. His challenge is to deliver a speech combining personal warmth with a clear vision for the future. So far, his campaign has failed on both counts.

The outlines of the Romney biography are familiar. Son of a Michigan governor and auto executive. Mormon, husband and father of five sons. Became wealthy running private equity firm Bain Capital. Rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics and served one term as governor of Massachusetts. But it is a one-dimensional description, and Republicans this week agree that Romney has to offer voters a more complete picture.

After avoiding talk of religion for months, Romney's religious faith is expected to be directly acknowledged. Former Olympic athletes will speak, and there will be some syrupy videos. But Romney has to connect with voters open to change but still cool to him. Otherwise the caricatures will take stronger hold: the dad who strapped the dog carrier to the roof of the station wagon on a family vacation, the cold-hearted investor who bought companies and laid off workers before selling for huge profits, the rich guy with a car elevator who cannot relate to regular voters. Romney does not have to morph into Bill Clinton and feel everyone's pain, but voters need more from him to make an informed judgment.

They also want a road map for the future. Romney can be expected to renew his pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank regulatory reforms. He will build on the argument that convention speaker after speaker have made that President Barack Obama has failed to revive the economy and create enough jobs, and that he can do better. But a successful candidate has to let voters know more than what he is against. They want a clear path forward, and Romney's has been muddled.

The Republican nominee wants to cut spending and eliminate tax breaks, but has not been specific about either. He embraces running mate Paul Ryan's Medicare changes but not key specifics. He wants immigration reform but opposes the Dream Act and says illegal immigrants should "self-deport.'' He wants a new energy policy but embraces coal.

Vague policy is often forgiven if there is more clarity about the candidate. But by nature or by design, Romney has not been revealing. He has been reluctant to talk about his religious service, and he has distanced himself from his accomplishments as governor. He has been defensive about his work at Bain, and he refused to provide more than two years of tax returns. That opaqueness has enabled Democrats to draw their unflattering picture of the Republican nominee, which Republicans have complained about this week without offering more than platitudes about their candidate.

So far, the convention has failed to provide a more complete picture. Ann Romney delivered a speech with a couple of nice lines but not one memorable anecdote about her husband. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talked mostly about himself and New Jersey. Ryan is driving the Republican budget agenda and is the more intriguing personality at the moment.

It is up to Romney to fill in the blanks, and he has to do it tonight.

Comments
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18