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Michael Waldron: Romney versus Gingrich

Published 10:35pm Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I first became interested in current events in 1956 when I was just 10 years old.

1956 was quite a year for news. In 1956, the British and French along with Israel invaded Egypt, the Warsaw Pact invaded Hungary, and both American political parties had their political conventions. The Republican convention was a boring affair because it nominated President Eisenhower without any real competition. The Democrat convention was more interesting because there at least was some suspense.  Now after all these years, the Republican Convention will be interesting because it might be the first suspenseful convention in a long time.

I think the competition will be between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Who knew last year that it might be Mitt versus Newt this coming summer? Let’s briefly list the principal attributes of each candidate:

Newt Gingrich:

• Smart, experienced in Washington’s methods

• Good debater

• Ethics charge in 1990s.  Gingrich paid $300,000 as a result of those charges.

• Resigned as Speaker and member of the House in 1999 when Republicans didn’t support him. Even today many Republicans characterize him as mercurial and difficult.

• Married three times, carried on affairs during first two marriages

• Sat on a sofa with Nancy Pelosi to advocate for measures against global warming

• Loose cannon: criticized Congressman Ryan’s plan to reduce deficit last summer then recanted some of his criticism

Mitt Romney:

• Successful governor of Democratic Massachusetts

• Successfully ran Utah Olympics

• Stable family life

• Controversial record in past financial dealings at Bain Capital

• Member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)

• Very rich and lives off of investments (pays taxes at 15 percent marginal rate). When charitable contributions are added, paid more than 40 percent to both IRS and charities (principally LDS)

• Understands economy; good manager

Before the Republican primary on 28 February, Republicans should try to answer the following questions:

Who would be better at reducing deficit?  Gingrich proudly claims to have grandiose ideas.  He also can claim that Congress under his leadership balanced the budget for two years in the 1990s.

Romney took over an out-of-control Olympics and completed the Olympic Games in Utah under budget. His stewardship of Massachusetts was successful. Overall, Romney impresses me as a better manager and more likely to reduce the budget or at least reduce its growth as president than Gingrich.

Who knows more about foreign affairs? Here, Gingrich is clearly more experienced than Romney although Romney’s answers to foreign policy questions in the debates have been reasonable and well thought out.

Which one would operate better with Democrats? This question is easily decided in favor of Romney. He was a Republican governor in a very Democrat state. Gingrich is generally loathed by Democrats and also by quite a few Republicans. His record as Speaker of the House was troubled by revolts by junior Republicans and the first impeachment of a president since Andrew Johnson in the 19th century.

Who would fare better against Obama?  The national polls indicate that Romney would do much better than Gingrich would because Gingrich’s negatives are much higher than Romney’s especially with independents.

My biggest worry is our huge national debt. It’s now more than $15.3 trillion or about the same as our annual gross national product and growing larger every day. I see no indication that President Obama has any plan even to slow it down except for raising taxes. If we raise taxes, particularly on entrepreneurial people, the economy will slow down and defeat any program Obama may have to pay down the deficit. Thus, any Republican opponent to President Obama is preferable to him. I’ll qualify that previous statement by adding any Republican opponent other than Congressman Ron Paul. He would reduce the budget deficit faster than any politician on the national stage at the moment; however, he has naïve and foolish ideas about foreign policy. The United States would be at risk if he were president. Rick Santorum is a good man. Perhaps, it’s his sweater vests or his Boy Scout image, but I cannot become excited about him as president. I would vote for him if he were the Republican nominee this fall, but I hope he isn’t on the ballot.

That leaves Romney and Gingrich.

I’d love to watch Gingrich debate Obama, but I have no confidence that Gingrich as president would be able to persuade the country to follow his path. The presidency is a relatively weak office subject to many checks and balances. A president must persuade. Gingrich just isn’t trustworthy or inspiring so I don’t think he can persuade.

That leaves the choice for me to be Romney. He is a little too polished and risk-averse, but that’s not necessarily bad. I can live with his changes in political positions over the years. His Mormonism is no problem for me because I have known many Mormons. I’ve never met a Mormon who wasn’t a thoroughly honorable and decent person. I’m sure there are despicable Mormons — I have not met one. He’s a good business man who has created jobs and destroyed jobs. That is the very nature of capitalism.  It is almost a Darwinian system where businesses that can adapt survive and those who cannot perish. Government-directed economies hang on to unprofitable businesses because it’s the politically correct thing to do. That is socialism and it doesn’t work.

I hope the people of Michigan will do a little research to learn more about the Republican candidates. Using Google or any other search engine on the internet, it’s easy to do. The primary is on Feb. 28 so there is plenty of time. 2012 is the most important year for Americans in decades, certainly more important than 1956.

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