With his campaign fading fast, I better make the case for Mitt Romney before he is off to pasture with Rudy, Fred, and the other guys who got out so early that we don't remember their names any more. The case for Mitt Romney comes down to one word - Olympics.
Everything about what Mitt does and who Mitt is can be summed up by looking at his handling of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Think of the connections.
Those Olympics showcased a public face of Mormonism that shattered stereotypes and beat back ignorance. As the world was introduced to Salt Lake City, perceptions about Mormons changed, even as the jokes flew. In the same way, I would be willing to bet that more people known the Mitt Romney is a Mormon than any of his policy positions. I find the way Mitt has handled his faith, particularly his speech on freedom from a couples of month ago, to be a compelling example of what makes America great.
The 2002 Winter Olympics were mired with scandal before Romney took over. He was able to shift public opinion about the Olympics, while also executing a well-run and purposeful plan to make the Olympics successful. He seems to have an innate ability to strategically lead, factoring in both public approval and effectiveness. Bill Clinton seemed obsessed with public approval. George W. Bush seems intent on effecting his plan. Romney seems to me to have the traits to keep these two things in balance.
For instance, a friend of mine from Salt Lake City told me that the stadiums and arenas that were built for the 2002 Olympics were not only paid for completely, but that Romney was able to raise enough money to endow the maintenance of those buildings for decades beyond the Olympics. As a result, the general feeling in Salt Lake City is that the Olympics were a resounding success. I long for a President who can both actually accomplish a well-thought out plan and sell it and resell it to the American people, instead of just assuming we all agree with him.
The Winter Olympics gave Mitt Romney the opportunity to display characteristics I would like to see in a President:
- Compelling and creative communication that actually sways public opinion
- Fiscal and budget understanding
- The ability to lead through change in a broken environment
- Recruitment of volunteers to be a part of something bigger than themselves
- Respect for and experience in the private sector
The downside of Romney is the Ken doll factor. He seems slick and plastic and a little too well suited for the job, like if you were going to cast the part of President in a movie, he would be your guy. Can Mitt overcome that? I am not sure. I do find it interesting, however, that we complain if candidates don't come off well in the media, ala George W. Bush. And we complain, in Mitt's case, that they come off too well.
If I was going to vote for Mitt Romney - did I in the Arkansas primary? - I would with one hope in mind - that he would handle America and the challenges we face like he did the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.