A moderate leap towards the White House

For his best shot at US presidency Mitt Romney will need the support of more moderate voters, which means moving past the Republican catechism other candidates are chanting.

Romney’s principal challenges are that too many primary voters who pick the Republican nominee like simple conservative orthodoxy – 'get the government out of my life' – but the moderates who made Obama president and who Romney must win in November don’t drink that Kool Aid.

And conservative pundits, such as editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal and George Will, endlessly ridicule Romney’s economic program for having 59 points instead of three – lower taxes, less government and deregulation – and are denying him an honest assessment from analysts who should be sympathetic toward his quest for the presidency.

As things stand, Romney, in the general election, would have to contend with both Democrats in the media sympathetic toward Obama’s big government philosophy and Republicans in the media who think too much like Republican primary voters and can’t accept that something more nuanced than conservative orthodoxy is needed to right the country.

To turn his 25 per cent plurality in Iowa into convincing wins in South Carolina and Florida, and beat Obama in November, Romney must concisely and accessibly explain how Obama’s passive response to Chinese protectionism, limits on oil and gas development, expensive health care mandates, and quagmire of bank regulations are strangling American capitalism. And how his program can quickly turn things around. His 59 points already have most of it, but now it is time for the executive summary and eloquent delivery.

That will take courage for Romney to recognise, and skill for him to convince voters that simply berating Washington is not enough. The world is too complex for the government of Rutherford B. Hayes, but surely safe enough for an America that relies on entrepreneurism and accountability, and not command and control, to prosper and grow.

Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and former chief economist at the US International Trade Commission. @pmorici1


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