Typically, an election with an incumbent president on the ballot is a referendum on him. But President Obama, who’s running on a weak economic recovery, is trying to turn the election into a choice. “We’ve made progress, but the nation still has problems, and they’ll get much worse under the other guy,” is essentially what he’s saying. So what exactly does Mitt Romney bring to the table, in positive and negative ways? Here are the assets:
Mitt Romney is both an entrepreneur and a technocrat at heart. He helped start the office-supply superstore Staples. He also has a track record of taking large, complicated organizations that are broken or can be improved and fixing them. In the private sector, he made millions of dollars as a venture capitalist and turnaround artist at the private equity firm Bain Capital. During the primaries, some of Mr. Romney’s opponents tried to turn his business success into a negative, highlighting the people who lost their jobs when Bain came to town and restructured their companies. Romney’s rivals also pointed out that some of the companies Bain took over went bankrupt – after Bain cashed out.
This is all fertile territory for President Obama as well, and we can expect to hear a lot more during the general election campaign about the people who suffered, as they see it, at the hands of Bain. But the bottom line is that Americans admire success in business and believe in the free-enterprise system that has served the Romney family so well.
Romney can also contrast himself with Mr. Obama, who has no business experience and, Romney says, no understanding of how the “real economy” works. In addition, Romney’s bearing as a CEO gives him a presidential aura. People who know and have worked with Romney tout his leadership skills and powers of persuasion.
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