December 06, 2007

The Latest National Review...

...has different people make the case for five of the Republican candidates. Here are the Romney & McCain recaps:

Dean Barnett on Romney:
A couple of weeks ago, I was having a casual conversation with someone who knows a great deal about the troop surge in Iraq and the decision-making process that led to its implementation. According to this individual, in late 2006 the president’s team outlined for him the concepts of counterinsurgency doctrine that David Petraeus helped formulate. When presented with this option, the president snapped, “Why didn’t someone tell me about this two years ago?”

The story may well be apocryphal. It may be the stuff of urban legend. Nevertheless, one thought struck me when I heard it: That would never happen to Mitt Romney.

I’ve known Mitt Romney since early 1994. I was one of the first volunteers for his ill-fated Senate campaign that year against Ted Kennedy. I was his occasional driver, taking him to ward-committee meetings around the commonwealth. It was my job to serve as a one-man entourage — it’s unseemly for a major candidate to enter a room of 20 voters unaccompanied by at least one enthusiastic volunteer.

For me, it was a pretty good deal. As a 27-year-old who had recently started his own business and was eager for advice, I was delighted to have one of Boston’s best businessmen as a captive audience in a Ford LTD for a few hours. I happily picked his brain. Although Romney may have preferred drivers who just shut up and drive, he was far too gentlemanly ever to let such feelings show.

One thing struck me as I wedged my nascent business venture into nearly every conversation. Romney has what is best described as a voracious intellect. He didn’t casually toss off opinions. He didn’t offer advice from his gut, nor did he rely on his years of experience and say things like, “We always did it this way.” If he was going to venture any opinions or offer any advice, he would gather all the necessary data before doing so. He was more curious about how my business functioned and should function than I was.

If Mitt Romney were presiding over a faltering war effort, he wouldn’t passively wait for his advisers to bring him alternatives. He would consider it his responsibility to go out and find them himself...

People who meet Romney are almost invariably charmed. To put it mildly, the same could not be said of Dukakis. One of the reasons that Romney’s doing so well in the early-voting states is that the people there have gotten to know the real Romney, as opposed to the national-media narrative that has arisen around his campaign.

...In the Boston business community, Mitt Romney was known as an honest and decent man. His penchant for honesty carried over into the political arena. Although his political foes will never concede as much, their silence regarding his kept campaign promises speaks volumes.
Frank Cannon on McCain:
Mayor Giuliani and Governor Romney, both strong and qualified candidates, offer management experience as a primary credential. They see our nation’s challenges as best handled by convening experts and brokering solutions. But the president is not like a prosecutor or a mayor, a CEO or a governor. He must decide, often without warning or time for lengthy analysis, how to confront crises of national importance. He must choose when to put American soldiers in harm’s way. In this person, I don’t look for a capable manager, but an inspired leader of sound judgment. For me, John McCain is the man who has earned that trust....

Some conservatives are determined to stop Rudy Giuliani in order to keep the party from putting forth its first pro-abortion nominee. Romney supporters point to their candidate as the logical alternative around whom conservatives can coalesce. The danger is that Romney matches up worse against Hillary Clinton than does any other Republican candidate.

Even more problematic is the fact that, so far, Romney has given a negative impression to the voters who have formed an opinion of him. In a Fox News poll taken November 13–14, 79 percent of the electorate had an opinion of John McCain: 48 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable, for a net positive of 17 points. By contrast, 59 percent of the electorate had an opinion of Mitt Romney, but only 26 percent were favorable while 33 percent were unfavorable — a negative net rating of 7 points. Some argue that this is so only because relatively few Americans know much about Governor Romney. But a comparably small portion of the electorate holds an opinion of either Senator Thompson or Governor Huckabee, who have positive net ratings of 7 and 4 points respectively.

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