TAMPA, Fla. (State House News Service) —
Mitt Romney will win the presidency â€śgoing awayâ€ť in November as the electorate tunes in more closely to the race and gets to the know the man that Massachusetts Republicans put their faith in 10 years ago,
former Gov. William Weld predicted Tuesday.
â€śI think he just needs to be himself. I know him behind the curtain, as it were, and heâ€™s a very relaxed, very entertaining guy, wicked sense of humor and maybe that is not the leading edge on the campaign trail but I think over time, particularly as voters begin to really focus on the race, which I donâ€™t think really happens until after Labor Day, I think that will all sink in,â€ť Weld said.
In October 2008, Weld supported Romney over
Sen. John McCain in the 2008 GOP presidential primary and then backed
Sen. Barack Obama for president in the general election because, he said, the Democrat possessed calm and intellect, calling Obama "a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who will transform our politics and restore America's standing in the world.â€ť
â€śI was part of the army that thought he was going to be absolutely fabulous as a president,â€ť Weld told reporters, suggesting he began to sour on Obama as the economic recovery stagnated and he saw more of the presidentâ€™s attitude toward spending.
Weld did not rule out going to work in a Romney administration, if the governor would have him: â€śI hope to be welcome in Mitt Romneyâ€™s Washington and I donâ€™t know what the role would be, but if I werenâ€™t inside Iâ€™d be pinging and kibitzing from the outside. A lot of his people are good friends of mine,â€ť Weld told reporters.
Weldâ€™s ability to win the governorâ€™s office twice in the 1990s while running as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, gave Republicans throughout Massachusetts, including Romney, a blueprint on how Republicans can win in Massachusetts where Democrats outnumber Republican by a three to one margin.
Since his campaigns for U.S. Senate and governor, however, Romney has unquestionably tacked to the right as he set his sights on the White House, especially on social issues important to winning conservative Republicans outside of the Northeast.
â€śI think even Gov. Romney has said his views on some social issues modified over time, so thatâ€™s not a secret and what you see is what you get right now. Thereâ€™s no shading right now, and I think heâ€™s been pretty clear about his positions,â€ť Weld said.
Weld said once voters become comfortable with Romney, the race will be decided on the issues facing the economy that he said favor Republicans this cycle. Weld, who now lives in New York and is representing the Empire State as a delegate in Tampa, backed Romneyâ€™s first run for president in 2008 and is behind him again, despite endorsing President Obama over Sen. John McCain in 2008.
â€śI think all thatâ€™s really necessary is for the electorate to decide someone is acceptable as a president of the United States and Mitt acts, looks, and talks like a president of the United States, so I donâ€™t think likeability by itself is the key when you have the country in such crying need of some switches to help the economy,â€ť Weld said.
Republican National Convention, which formally gets started Tuesday after being delayed due to Tropical Storm Isaac, will give the Romney campaign a chance not just to draw a contrast between the former governor and Obama on policy, but present a fuller portrait of Romney to the country.
â€śI think the convention is a great platform to tell the story about Mitt Romney the man, a person who is devoted to his family, someone who has shown leadership qualities in whatever enterprise he happened to be running, whether that was the Olympics or the state of Massachusetts or a private equity firm,â€ť advisor
Eric Fehrnstrom told the News Service earlier this week.
Ann Romney will start that process Tuesday night when she is expected to speak to the convention before the keynote address by
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Weld, a moderate, affable Republican, spoke to the Massachusetts RNC delegation during a breakfast Tuesday sponsored by ML Strategies, announcing himself as â€śpumpedâ€ť to be in Tampa.
Former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent also addressed the delegation, telling them Obama had squandered the â€śslingshot effectâ€ť of rapid economic growth that usually follows a recession.
â€śWeâ€™re burning the best years of the recovery limping, staggering along,â€ť Talent said.
Weld said Romney would govern as a â€śpragmatistâ€ť due to his successful business background that taught him you donâ€™t succeed by taking unnecessary risks or acting on a â€śhunch.â€ť
Recalling his time in Massachusetts campaigning for
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown in the final days of the senatorâ€™s 2009-2010 campaign, Weld said, â€śI could feel on the street a spending fatigue in Massachusetts that was palpable.â€ť
Weld said he doesnâ€™t regret endorsing Obama, and admitted his reelection would not be a â€śdisasterâ€ť even if he believes Romney is better suited for the times.
â€śThe fact that the president at bottom if you scratch him might be a community organizer doesnâ€™t mean heâ€™s not a good person. He is good person. But thatâ€™s not the tonic we need to fix our economy right now, in my judgment,â€ť Weld said.
After citing his management of the Salt Lake City Olympics as one of Romneyâ€™s most impressive successes, Weld recalled how Romney could have distanced himself from the fatal collapse of a ceiling tile in the Big Dig, but did the opposite. â€śHis instinct is never to shirk responsibility for a difficult problem or try to pass it off,â€ť Weld said.
Weld also took issue with Obamaâ€™s suggestion, stealing a theme from Massachusetts Senate candidate
Elizabeth Warren that â€śyou didnâ€™t build itâ€ť without the help of public services and infrastructure necessary to succeed.
â€śIf you really did believe that, you might believe there is no difference between when you work hard in your job and you donâ€™t work hard, and believe me, Iâ€™ve had both those experience and thereâ€™s a difference,â€ť Weld said, drawing laughter.
Weld said Romney was a â€śmore seriousâ€ť governor than he was, and has no doubt he will bring the same â€śmethodical, purposefulâ€ť approach to Washington.
â€śIf Mitt Romney stands for anything itâ€™s the idea that productivity and entrepreneurial spirit of the American workforce has been our edge over the years, and I still think it is and Mitt would let nothing interfere with tapping into the qualities of the workforce,â€ť Weld said.
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