Mitt Romney is not John McCain

As the party’s nomination process becomes clear in recent days, I have heard some in the Republican Party suggest that they’re going to sit out the general election, as some form of protest vote. They assert that because they’re “sick and tired of the media or the establishment thrusting moderates on us”, they’re staying home.

These same folks suggest that in 2016, the party will be able to “start over”, win hearts and minds and somehow, this will allow the party to put up a “true conservative” candidate. There is at least one major flaw in this rationale. How much further down the road to Greece or Portugal are we today as a result of Barrack Obama’s decision making? Do these folks honestly think that four more years of Obama’s handouts are going to magically win over moderates and independents? In four years, Obama will be able to buy millions more votes for his ideology, and the country runs the risk that by 2016–there will be no real contest. For the skeptics, I suggest one should go live, for at least twelve months, in Spain or Italy or virtually any central European nation and see what unabaided “social democracy” looks like. But this is a topic for another day.

My real point today is that many of these protest voters suggest that Romney is just like McCain. While both are republicans, and both have some success working with political enemies, the similarities end there. Let me state that John McCain is a truly great member of our society and has contributed mightily to our nation, but what follows here, are four major differences between McCain and Romney.

John McCain is an insider, a career politician. Following a distinguished military career, McCain spent virtually his entire life in Washington, DC. He was, and remains today in many ways, the consummate insider. He was, in fact, the establishment pick for the party in 2008. Mitt Romney on the other hand, has never set foot inside the beltway. He’s never earned a penny from government service.  He took no salary as Mass governor and has only served in public office for 4 years.  As such, he has not yet been blinded and beguiled by the toxic milk of the federal teat. It is likewise a testament to his successful campaign that he has earned the support of so many in congress without spending sixteen years as an insider, trading earmarks with his constituents. Romney “earned” it over the last 6 years by being the most competent conservative in the party.

Secondly, McCain, while a good lawmaker in some respects, was a Senator. He was and is–a lawmaker. There is a fundamental difference between a congress member and a governor, my friends.  While making laws and schmoozing lobbyists may be a necessary evil in our system, it is a far cry–and distant skill set– from being the holder of responsibility for a large electorate.  As a lifelong senator, McCain never signed the front side of paycheck. He never had to truly balance a budget or do any of the myriad of things that a governor has to do. Romney is a private sector professional who has brought his knowledge skills and talents to government.   Romney has, for 20 years in private industry, made decisions, plotted strategy, and actually implemented thoughtful change management strategy. These are the skills of a nation’s chief executive.  They are far different than the skills acquired in congressional service.  There is a reason that the party usually nominates Governors.

The third difference is sensitive, but noteworthy to many.  While he’s no Newt Gingrich with the ladies, John McCain has acknowledged a history of marital infidelity. Not a serial philanderer mind you, but someone who once sold out his personal oath of fidelity just the same. Romney’s family and spousal faith is a well-established fact. If there was a skeleton there, Ted Kennedy would have found it in 1992. One need not trust me on this matter, better yet, trust all who know Mitt Romney. There is no cleaner history around. When it comes to familial and personal trust, Romney is no John McCain.

Finally, John McCain was, especially early in his career, a hothead. He was fiery and emotional under some circumstances. This is a capacity that served him well at times. But it is not the temperament that serves the world’s voice of democracy under fire.  Romney, contrarily, draws the ire of his party for being so emotionally balanced that you could offend him in the worst way, and he’s likely to forgive and move on. His years as a CEO and turnaround guy has taught him that when the storms of change come, and the oarsmen are panicking, the captain will be calm.

So, next time someone tries to tell you that they’re going to stay home on November 6th, to spite the party—invite them to consider for these reasons, among others, that Mitt Romney is no John McCain.

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