WASHINGTON — There are some campaign advisers who would counsel former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to jog on the campaign trail tirelessly, probably in short pants and with a catchy T-shirt emblazoned with some memorable phrase, say, "Fred Fna Ate Here," a la Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Jimmy Carter started the presidential candidates' jogging craze, and since him there have been a horde of presidential joggers, all wearing little boys' outfits, the notable exception being Ronald Reagan — possibly because, as he campaigned from 1976 on, he was considered too old to be president. On the other hand, the old cowboy had a sense of dignity that all other would-be presidents in recent years have lacked. Perhaps Romney should be photographed windsurfing as John Kerry was in 2004 and downing shots of firewater as Hillary Clinton did in 2008. Or he could filch a page from President-elect Vladimir Putin and campaign shirtless. Adopt the he-man look, Mitt!
Alas, Romney is a normal middle-aged American. He is the kind of man we all would like to have live next door. Facts are facts; all the aforesaid candidates save Reagan and now Romney are weird! Americans do not mind having them wearing funny hats and eating ethnic food on the campaign trail, but almost no American would want them as neighbors. Not so Romney. He would be welcome in our neighborhoods and maybe even trusted with a key to the house. Romney is NORMAL.
That is one fundamental reason, as this campaign season draws to an end, I am glad he will get the nomination. Think about it. Practically everyone who has run for the presidency over the past few decades has been odd. You would not want any of them in your neighborhood. Why would you want one of them in the White House? Rick Santorum ran a fine, if improbable, race, emphasizing values many of us share. Dr. Ron Paul reminded us of our constitutional principles that set Americans apart from the citizenry of other nations. Yet Newt Gingrich was the standard-issue candidate of recent decades. He was as bizarre as Bill Clinton but lacks Bill's charm — if that is the word for it.
Romney is normal. That is what those in the press corps really mean when they say things like he fails to inspire or he commits gaffes. Compared with whom, with Joe Biden? The other day, Joe addressed the perfectly nice female president of Scott Community College, Dr. Theresa Paper, as "Dr. Pepper." Joe's list of gaffes is encyclopedic. Moreover, Romney is campaigning for things most Americans believe in and, in fact, many consider exigent.
He would repeal Obamacare and give Medicaid block grants to the state. It costs less for Medicaid in Idaho than in New York City. He says he would take seriously an alternative health care proposal involving "premium support," after the health care proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan. He has promised to cut taxes — a 20 percent across-the-board cut in marginal rates, an elimination of the death tax, an elimination of taxes on capital gains, interest and qualified dividends for those with an adjusted gross income of $200,000 or less, plus a cut of the corporate tax rate to 25 percent. What is more, he would repeal Dodd-Frank, amend Sarbanes-Oxley and initiate a review of all of President Barack Obama's nanny state regulations. That ought to get the economy revved up!
In foreign policy, he has promised in his first 100 days to reverse Obama's cuts in missile defense, modernize our Navy and reverse the decline in the aging inventories of the Air Force, Army and Marines. He would pressure Iran to stop building nuclear weapons and improve our relations in the Middle East, starting with Israel. He has promised to open America's energy reserves for development and prevent the overregulation of shale gas and extraction, helping to make America energy-independent. He has promised to amend the Clean Air Act, excluding carbon dioxide from its jurisdiction. Those are policies that all conservatives can applaud and independents, too.
So why is there any doubt that Romney is a conservative? He already has won broad segments of the conservative vote and the tea party movement. Soon he will win over large numbers of independents. America is facing a crisis in spending and overreach. I think Romney could meet the crisis and restore America to happy days.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Death of Liberalism." To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.