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Thursday, February 7, 2008

What To Make Of Mitt

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At its root, it may just have been a problem of geography. After going to Harvard, Mitt Romney decided to stay in Massachusetts, raise his family, and make his fortune. And so when he decided to enter politics, doing so anyplace other than Massachusetts probably would have seemed obvious and false. Maybe he really felt it was home. Whatever his reasons it was in this very liberal New England state that he took his first stab at politics, taking on a giant's task of trying to topple the liberal icon, Ted Kennedy. And he came closer than any other opponent in Kennedy's career.

And that race, which brought him to national political attention also planted the seeds that led to his failure in this year's presidential race. Because Massachusetts is so liberal Mitt ran as a moderate. He said he was one. He really made no bones about it. Maybe he was. Or maybe he was really more conservative and made "accommodations" in the interest of being in the running at all. Whatever the truth that run coupled with his later slow shifting to the right through the years left voter's believing that Mitt had an authenticity problem. He was hard to trust then as he announced for the Presidency in 2007 as a true-blue Reaganite. The lack of total conservative commitment through most of the race which was only recently (too late) to rally to his side doomed him.

But whatever questions conservatives had about him, Mitt Romney ran his presidential campaign like the true-blue Reaganite he now said he was and when you look at that effort, just ended today you'd have to say he ran it with style and maybe even with a good deal of sincerity. Having stepped aside at what must have been a hard time for him but the right time, Romney leaves with great good will and should he comport himself over the next four years with the kind of class he showed in this race he will probably have positioned himself to be not just a candidate with far greater conservative acceptance in 2012 (should McCain lose this year, as is highly likely) maybe he will enter that race as the candidate of choice for conservatives.

He is a man of great intelligence and many talents. He will bear watching.

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