Mitt and Jeb, That's the Ticket
Around the State
Six years, $100 million. That’s what Democrats are saying Mitt Romney has spent in the race so far for the presidency, as if somehow it's a bad thing.
I believe that, ultimately, Mitt will win the Republican nomination, and it will come down for me and, I think, other conservative Democrats, that he is the best-tested, most-vetted, smartest, most successful capitalist in the race.
He has run the Olympics and made it an outstanding success and he was the governor of the state of Massachusetts, not every Republican’s dream job. I went to college in Boston, so you can call me prejudiced.
Mitt will win exactly because we have had the chance -- six years -- to watch him, size him up, listen to his speeches, understand his philosophy and core beliefs and appreciate the fact that what the tea party doesn’t like about him will satisfy most Americans who want someone to be fiscally responsible for government, just like we have to be for our families every day.
Proof of Mitt’s endurance is that every other GOP’er in the race except for Tim Pawlenty has had his or her moment in the spotlight and none has successfully weathered it but him. He is battle-tested and ready to take the fight to Obama on the pocketbook issues that this presidency will be won or lost on.
Beyond fiscal sanity, Mitt brings the right mixture of reasonableness and electability that Americans are searching for. Most Americans want someone to govern from the middle and not from the extreme -- left or right. Historically, about 20 percent or so declare themselves liberals; about 40 percent are self-described conservatives, leaving all other Americans in the political middle.*
So, what the tea party doesn’t like about Mitt -- his lack of true hard-core conservatism on all issues -- is exactly what will get him elected next November. And a Gallup Poll confirmed this when 50 percent of Republicans nationwide said they wanted their nominee to be someone who can win the general election, which means winning independents, the swingers in elections.**
Mitt can win independents and thus the White House better than any other Republican. But, to do so in the Electoral College-sense, he will have to deliver Florida to the Red Column because the math doesn’t make sense otherwise. And the best way to ensure that Florida goes Republican this cycle is to have a Floridian on the ticket when he runs.
I know that the popular thinking is that Florida’s junior senator, Marco Rubio, is the one to pick, and certainly he has the proven ability to help deliver Florida, as was demonstrated in an AIF poll this past August that indicated 31 percent of all Floridians would be more likely to pick the GOP ticket if Marco was on it (go to www.aif.com, polling for all the numbers). He is a rousing orator with a handsome face and a belief that just being an American is an exceptional gift that we have come to underappreciate.
No, my pick would be former Gov. Jeb Bush, whom I believe could get elected again as governor if he wanted. In the history of America, Florida is the only large-population state to never have produced a president. Think about it. California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, all have produced national leaders. Jeb represents Florida’s best chance and he is a true-blue conservative to boot and his eight years in office proved that. And he will make the ticket palatable to tea partiers. At the same time, neither Mitt nor Jeb are so extremely conservative that they will turn off the independents who will ultimately decide the next election.
Jeb also is not a Washington insider, at least not in the traditional sense, which will be a big virtue in this race. Sure, his father and his brother were in the White House and he knows the place real well, I suspect, but more importantly he was bitten early by the policy bug and accordingly he is visionary thinker on some of the most pressing problems of our state, which is a microcosm of the country. Taxes, education, health care, literacy and reading, and, yes, even the environment were all issues he tackled successfully.
Jeb is a consummate campaigner and his youthfulness and energy will be a big plus in the grueling campaign that will take him across this country in a few short months with Romney. Americans know well the Bush name. But Jeb is different from 41 and 43, and consequently he will be just the asset that Romney will need to win what undoubtedly will be a very close election.
Will Mitt make the call to Jeb? I don’t know. Will Jeb say yes? I don’t know that either, but if Republicans are to have a chance to win it all in November, they will need Jeb’s help to paint Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania red.
To help Mitt win in Florida, I am starting a Dems for Mitt organization comprised of conservative Democrats who cannot fathom another four years of Obama. Email me at email@example.com to join.
This is a guest column. Barney Bishop, former CEO of AIF, who just created his third company, is an outspoken, lifelong Democrat with a strong fiscally conservative streak. He believes that government is not the answer to our problems, that civil discourse is obligatory, that compromising on details will not undercut one’s core beliefs, and that a resilient, robust private sector is the elixir needed for a true democracy to grow and survive.
* Gallup Poll, August 1, 2011 and December 29, 2011
** Gallup Poll, June 13, 2011