Mitt Romney: Man On A Mission Or Missing In Action?

By Greg O'BrienCodfish PressMitt, we hardly knew ye! Less than three quarters into his first term as Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney?presidential aspirations in hand and an all-embracing resume, depending on your political persuasion, that is worthy of notice?is taking early retirement from Beacon Hill politics. The incentive package could include a second home on Pennsylvania Avenue.But for now, speculation inside the Romney camp is as quiet as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir without a director. ?I?m not going to close any options at this point, other than running for reelection,? Romney said Wednesday in making his stunning, yet anticipated, announcement. ?I have no idea if he?ll run for president, but I hope he does,? longtime Romney advisor Charley Manning told Boston Metro Thursday. ?I think he?d be a terrific one. If there?s one thing we know about Mitt, it?s that he knows how to fix things.?One thing Romney is now trying to fix is his national image as a Republican governor of what is perceived to be the most liberal state in the nation, a calling akin, he says, to being ?a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention.? Critics grouse that Romney has now more than ever embraced the matinee issues of the right to play to the GOP core?from his vigorous opposition to abortion and gay marriage to his backing of the death penalty. While the jury is still out with some on his repair skills in Massachusetts where critics contest Romney?s claim that ?I?ve got the job done that I set out to do,? the old Ronald Reagan retort is hard to ignore: Are we better off today than we were four years ago??No question we are,? said Manning. ?Mitt Romney took over a state that was a mess and turned it around. He inherited a $3 billion deficit in state government, cut costs, didn?t raise taxes and ended up with a surplus. States that have raised taxes still haven?t recovered!?Romney, some observers say, benefited from a kiss to the local economy in the form of higher state revenues, much like the pucker Bill Clinton received from the national economy when he was president. ?But it?s hard to disregard reality here,? said Manning. ?Romney walked into a state government of cronyism that was out of control with wasteful spending. He?s a superb manager and an excellent communicator, and he used those skills, as he did in corporate life and in organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, to trim the fat, streamline the bureaucracy, and get this state headed in the right direction.?To those who say the 58-year-old Romney is now AWOL, politically and administratively missing from his post, Manning insists the governor is committed to his pledge to finish his term and complete his announced goals of providing better health care to the state?s residents, upgrading public education and more.?The governor is not a career politician out to pad a pension,? said Manning, ?He?s never taken a salary. It?s so funny to hear Democrats question how Romney can leave after one term because they see government as a lifetime job. That?s where Republicans and people like Mitt are different. They see government as public service: you go in, do your job, then move on.?No question, Mr. Fix It is moving on. What remains to be seen is whether his toolbox will be stored in the corporate or political world.

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