Thursday, September 22, 2011

Does GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney forget he was governor?

S.E. Cupp
Another week, another presidential debate. The one in Orlando on Thursday night, sponsored by Fox News and Google, will surely be yet another prime-time matchup between the two Republican front-runners, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

We're sure to hear lots of things about what separates the two: health care policy, ideas on immigration, etc.

But let's not forget what unites them: experience as governors. That is - somewhat strangely - something that Romney will probably not talk very much about.

Why not? Well, in Romney's continual efforts to make newcomer Perry look downright undesirable, he is intent on touting his own experience in the private sector, saying it makes him uniquely qualified to lead this floundering nation out of its economic slump.

There's some logic to that line of thinking. This election was always going to be about the economy and joblessness, and who better than a successful businessman like Romney to get us back in the black and back to work? In a sea of former and current governors, it might not be a bad strategy for Romney to use his business acumen as a way to distinguish himself from Perry and the others.

Plus, there are certainly parts of Romney's tenure as governor that he'd rather not talk all that much about - namely, his own state's health reform law, which closely resembles the dreaded Obamacare.

What's interesting, however, is that this may be the first time in modern history that a former governor is running away from his executive experience to win the White House, instead of trying to use it as his trump card. In the New Hampshire debate in June, and in campaign speeches since, Romney has repeated the not wholly accurate line, "I spent my life in the private sector." While he can boast a 25-year career in business, he also, of course, spent four years heading up the State of Massachusetts. Further, he ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 1994 and for President in 2008, so he hasn't so much eschewed the public sector; it's kind of eschewed him.

Yet Romney's public service, both actual and attempted, rarely leaves his lips. Even his endorsers appear to be discouraged from discussing it.

When former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped out and endorsed his former adversary, he, too, made little of Romney's political leadership. "Mitt Romney in this race has a depth and scope of private-sector experience as an entrepreneur, as somebody who has invested in, started and grown businesses, and, importantly, grown jobs," Pawlenty said.

Interestingly, one of Pawlenty's attempted swipes at Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) earlier in the campaign was that she had no executive experience.

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