Focus: Meet Mr. Romney Part 2 – Politics And Public Service

Continuing our primary season series: By Aaron Joseph. Religious Public Service: While Mitt Romney served in a leadership position on a Mormon Missionary Mission to France during his early 20’s, as was mentioned in Part 1, his public service profile is spotty throughout his next 30 or so years. The one exception however is that during his business years Mitt did dedicated time on behalf of his religious interests. He served in various positions within the Mormon Church, including presiding over a Boston Stake. A Mormon ‘Stake’ for the unaffiliated is an upper level of Mormon Church hierarchy responsible for multiple congregations. While serving in these capacities, Mitt did take an active hand on approach counseling troubled or burdened church members, and trying to solve social problems among poor Southeast Asian converts.

ENTERING POLITICS:

Being the youngest son of an already famous American political family, Mitt was highly cognizant of many aspects of government, having assisted his father George W. Romney during his successful two term tenure as Michigan’s governor during the 1960’s. Mitt was present as a young teenager at the 1964 Republican National Convention when his moderate father debated the Republican party nominee Barry Goldwater over issues of civil rights and.

1994 SENATE RUN:

Mitt’s first real foray into other then religious activities was when he decided to take on longtime incumbent Democratic Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, who was more vulnerable than usual in 1994. Needless to say, the exceptionally wealthy Mitt Romney was well prepared to sustain himself during the race, especially since he was running against an American Political icon. Mitt changed his affiliation from Independent to Republican in October 1993 and formally announced his candidacy in February 1994. During the campaign, Mitt stepped down from his position at Bain Capital.

Mitt spent heavily during the 1994 Republican primary season buying much television time to help promote himself and get his name out. By the time the state convention time arrived in September, Mitt was nominated as the Republican challenger for the Senate over a fellow businessman, John Lakian, having garnered nearly 80% of the primary vote.

During the general election campaign, Mitt ran as face in politics, as the Washington outsider without the ‘insider’ detractors. He touted his highly successful business career, that while during his years as business executive helped create over 10,000 jobs in the business sector. He promoted his stable family man image and publicized his moderate stand on nearly all issues. Mitt repeated many times his campaign motto and theme that “this is a campaign about change.” Mitt’s father, George, also came to Massachusetts to help campaign for his son. George had been out of public life for over 20 years, since his time working in President Nixon’s cabinet.

A serious detractor for Mitt throughout his campaign was his inability to establish his own positions in a consistent manner. Senator Kennedy picked up on Mitt’s shifting views, and pointed out to the voting public Mitt’s seemingly shifting political views on issues such as abortion and on the treatment of workers at the Ampad plant owned by Romney’s Bain Capital. This tactic by Kennedy was highly successful, and was effective in blunting Mitt’s momentum.

During the campaign Mitt spent over $7 million of his own money, making this one of the most expensive senatorial campaigns in the United States up until that time. In the November general election, despite a disastrous showing for Democrats overall, Kennedy won the election with 58 percent of the vote to Romney’s 41 percent.

Mitt went back to running Bain Capital the day after he lost the election For a long while the hurt of losing his senate bid hurt him, and he told his brother, “I never want to run for something again unless I can win.” As the decade neared a close Mitt was noticed to be restless; the goal of just making more money was apparently losing its appeal to him and he wanted to be of service to others. During his Senate run he had also stepped down as the Boston Stake president, although he still continued to teach Sunday school.

2002 WINTER OLYMPICS:

In 2002 Mitt was offered to take over the fiscally troubled 2002 Olympic Winter Games, to be held in Salt Lake City in Utah. With the encouragement of his ailing wife who had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1998, (though seemingly a mixture of mainstream and alternative treatments has given her a lifestyle mostly without limitations) Mitt accepted the position.

During February 1999, Mitt was hired as the new president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, in essence becoming commander in chief of the Olympics. Mitt’s appointment was not without immediate opposition, as Mitt’s appointment faced some initial criticism from non-Mormons, and fears from Mormons, that it represented cronyism or gave the games too Mormon an image. Mitt revamped the entire sequence of events that had led the games to be in disarray and turned the 2002 Winter Olympics into a success.

Romney wrote a book about his Olympics experience titled Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games, published in 2004. The role in leading the 200 Olympics gave Romney experience in dealing with federal, state, and local entities, a public persona he had previously lacked, and the chance to re-launch his political aspirations.

GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS 2003-2007

The campaign:

In 2002, the Massachusetts Republican Acting Governor’s administration was plagued by political missteps. Many Republicans considered her unable to win a general election against a Democrat. Republican activists persuaded Mitt to run for governor. The Republican Acting Governor decided not to seek her party’s nomination for reelection, and so Mitt was not challenged for the 2002 Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Mitt campaigned as a political outsider again, although he had unsuccessfully run for Senator. One of his fond quotes of the campaign was that he was “not a partisan Republican.” Throughout the campaign he championed ‘progressive’ views. Mitt hailed his business record, especially his success with the 2002 Olympics, as the record of someone who would be able to bring a new era of efficiency into Massachusetts politics.

The campaign was the first to use micro-targeting techniques, in which fine-grained groups of voters were reached with narrowly tailored messaging. Mitt contributed over $6 million to his own campaign during the election, a state record at the time. He was elected Governor in November 2002 with 50 percent of the vote over his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O’Brien, who received 45 percent.

As Governor: Accomplishments and criticism.

Mitt Romney was sworn in as the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003. Both houses of the Massachusetts state legislature held large Democratic majorities. Upon entering office in the middle of a fiscal year, Romney faced an immediate $650 million shortfall. Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes, by 2006 the state had a $600–700 million surplus. To do this Mitt supported raising various fees, including fees for driver’s licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses. As well he increased a special gasoline retailer fee by two cents per gallon. His opponents said the reliance on fees sometimes imposed a hardship on those who could least afford them. During his time in office, Mitt also closed tax loopholes. Mitt sought additional cuts in his last year as Massachusetts governor by vetoing nearly 250 items in the state budget, but all of them were overridden by the Democratic-dominated legislature.

ROMNEY & MASSACHUSETTS HEALTCARE

One of Mitt’s biggest accomplishments and perhaps most controversial was his creating and enacting a state wide universal healthcare coverage for all citizens of Massachusetts.

Staples founder Stemberg told Mitt at the start of his term that the best way he could help people state wide would be to bring near-universal health insurance coverage all of it’s citizens. Perhaps I deciding factor to act on such a law was after the federal government, due to the rules of Medicaid funding, threatened to cut $385 million in those payments to Massachusetts if the state did not reduce the number of uninsured recipients of health care services.

Mitt stipulated that before any healthcare measure would be adopted as law, it would not raise taxes. Past political rival Ted Kennedy, who had made universal heath coverage his life’s work and who over time developed a warm relationship with Mitt, gave Mitt’s plan a positive reception, which encouraged Democratic legislators to work with it

On April 12, 2006, Romney signed the resulting Massachusetts health reform law, which requires nearly all Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance coverage or face escalating tax penalties such as the loss of their personal income tax exemption.

On December 14, 2005, Romney announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor so he could dedicate his future to running for president.

VARIOUS POLITICAL POSITIONS:

As a political ploy and effective weapon, Mitt generally used the bully pulpit approach towards promoting his agenda, staging well-organized media events to appeal directly to the public rather than pushing his proposals in behind-doors sessions with the state legislature

At the beginning of his governorship, Mitt opposed same-gender marriage and civil unions, but advocated tolerance and supported some domestic partnership benefits. He reluctantly backed a state constitutional amendment in February 2004 that would have banned same-gender marriage but still allow civil unions, viewing it as the only feasible way to ban same-gender marriage in Massachusetts. Towards the end of his time in office, Mitt endorsed a petition effort led by the Coalition for Marriage & Family that would have banned same-gender marriage and made no provisions for civil unions. In 2004 and 2006 he urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

During 2005, Mitt revealed a change of his original stance and view regarding abortion, moving from an “unequivocal” pro-choice position expressed during his 2002 campaign to a pro-life one where he opposed Roe v. Wade.

SINCE LEAVING THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE:

Midway through his governor’s term, Mitt decided that he wanted to stage a full-time run for the presidency. He traveled around the country, meeting prominent Republicans and building a national political network. Through these efforts, he managed to spend part or all of more than 200 days out of state during 2006, preparing for his run .Probably because of this very busy intrusion into his governorship, approval rating declined in public polls towards the end of his term.

The 2008 Presidential Campaign:

Although thought off highly, Mitt was never considered the first tier candidate during the 2008 campaign. He campaigned on such sayings aas “Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation,” and he cast himself as a political outsider, by saying, “I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician.”

Throughout the campaign Mitt proved the most effective fundraiser of any of the Republican candidates. He had a large contingency of supports with fond memories of his success in the 2002 Olympics, and thos ties helped him with fundraising from Utah residents and from sponsors and trustees of the games. Mitt also partly financed his campaign with his own personal fortune. However, from the start Mitt’s Mormon religion was viewed with suspicion and skepticism by some, and his staff suffered from internal strife. Mitt himself was indecisive at times, constantly asking for more data before making a decision. In addition, Mike Huckabee, and the eventual nominee Senator John McCain pounded away at Romney’s image as a flip flopper. The Flip Flopper label would stick to Romney throughout the campaign, (but was one that Romney rejected as unfair and inaccurate, except for his acknowledged change of mind on abortion).

Trailing John McCain in delegates by a more than two-to-one margin after most of the primaries, Romney announced the end of his campaign on February 7. Altogether, Romney had won 11 primaries and caucuses, received about 4.7 million total votes, and garnered about 280 delegates. Romney spent $110 million during the campaign, including $45 million of his own money. Mitt endorsed John McCain for president a week later. He became one of the McCain campaign’s most visible surrogates, appearing on behalf of McCain at fundraisers, state Republican party conventions, and on cable news programs. They eventually did develop a friendship.

Over the past few years Mitt has gone on speaking tours and on June 2, 2011, Mitt formally announced the start of his 2012 presidential campaign.

Mitt has written a book recently called No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. It focuses on a presenting his views on economic and geopolitical matters. Earnings from the book were donated to charity.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Very informative. Lengthy.
    Are you tryimg to say that the man is a missionary?
    He seems to be principled and moral. There is no proof that his religious views influence his other public service.

Comments are closed.