The Real Mitt Romney

“Let Romney Be Romney,” I recently wrote. I suggested that he should stop trying to be a politician and simply be himself. Everyone who has met him knows he is a personable, knowledgeable man with vast experience. However, on the stump he looks a little like he is trying too hard to be what the political folks think will win.

In Wednesday night’s debate, Mitt Romney was the real Mitt Romney.

While the president appeared not to have taken the debate seriously, Romney was passionate, made a good first step in establishing the philosophical difference between the two candidates. He demonstrated a firm grasp of the economic failures of the Obama administration and what is needed to correct them.

What was interesting was the mainstream media’s response. They could not begin to spin the debate results in a way that showed Obama had won. I watched the debate on NBC – hardly a bastion of conservative thought – and the commentators were universal in their assessment that Romney had accomplished what he needed to. Thursday morning CNN’s poll showed 67 percent thought that Romney had won the debate.

But the questions should not be about winning or losing a particular debate (the American obsession). Karl Rove pointed out in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that, in the past 30 days, there have been 91 national polls. People want to know who is ahead as if this were a football game. In fact, on the investment program Squawk Box Thursday morning, commentators likend he race to a football game with Romney down by a touchdown and two minutes left. One of the commentators actually asked who was the quarterback.

The question should be whether Romney has shown himself to be a clear enough alternative to President Obama that we can benefit from replacing him. That Romney was able to do.

Obama made statements like the rich should be willing to contribute their fair share to government, as if he had never heard of Chief Justice John Marshall’s observation: “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” He kept speaking of the federal government taking your Michigan tax dollars and “inveting” in the salaries of teachers in states halfway across the country from where you live.

Romney made it clear that free individuals working in free markets are the key to solving our problems. I especially like his use of “trickle down government” to describe the Obama view of economic recovery. Romney explained that reducing taxes on businesses will increase their ability to hire workers. He also pointed out that while the percentage of small businesses that would be subject to higher taxes under Obama’s plan is small; these businesses hire half of all the workers.

Romney made the case that the president had “not gotten the job done.” Unemployment above 8 percent since February of 2009, deficits of over $1 trillion per year for as far as the Congressional Budget Office can project, the mishandling of the housing market. . . all point to the need for new leadership.

It was also interesting to listen to a BBC Radio interview with students in favor of Obama explaining why he had done poorly. One, in particular, spoke to the point. She said he had not prepared as well as Romney because he was too “busy running the free world.” Surely the Founders did not envision the role of the president to run anything but a government limited to the protection of life, liberty, and property.

While this may say more about the taxpayer-subsidized college education students are getting than how Obama envisions himself, Romney nonetheless was able to make it clear that if you want someone else to run your life then you should vote for Obama. And if you believe in individual liberty and the social cooperation of the free market then you should vote for Romney.

(Dr. Gary L. Wolfram is the William E. Simon Professor in Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College. Find him on Facebook at And on Twitter at @Gary_Wolfram. Originally posted on The Michigan View.)