Introducing: The Mitt Romney Director's Cut

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 9 2012 11:21 AM

Introducing: The Mitt Romney Director's Cut

Mitt Romney's been cleaning up on local newspaper* endorsements. In Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, editorial boards occasionally used their clout to buck up one of the conservative challengers to the Great Moderate Hope. That hasn't really happened since the field winnowed to Romney, Paul, and two conservatives.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

And yet... the Romney campaign has given its editorials furtive, there-there sorts of embraces. It never sends out the entire text of a "Sure, Romney" editorial. It excerpts the best parts. Thus I introduce the Mitt Romney Director's Cut, which highlights the parts of the editorial that got clipped. Here's today's from Alabama's Times Daily newspaper.

Mitt Romney is the best choice for president in Alabama’s Republican primary on Tuesday.
Alabama voters who want to return a Republican to the White House should take a reality check before voting in Tuesday’s primary.
The extreme right-wing pronouncements from Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul may play well in a Southern state like ours, but they will not win the presidential race in November.
To defeat President Barack Obama, the GOP will need to capture the support of independents and moderates. Mitt Romney is the only candidate on the ballot with the ability to accomplish this.
But no one should consider Romney the candidate of last resort. The former governor of Massachusetts is an experienced leader with the skills and integrity needed to guide the world’s most powerful nation.
He has a record of taking troubled entities and turning them around. That record includes the role he played in saving the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City when the event was threatened by mismanagement and fallout from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In an attempt to increase his support among conservatives, Romney has made the mistake of distancing himself from past successes. He would do well to embrace the victories he earned on health care and other issues in a state where 85 percent of the legislators were Democrats.
The ability to work across party lines and find innovative solutions sets him apart from the divisiveness displayed by his GOP challengers. But Romney’s skills at bipartisanship do not mean he is not a true conservative. With an ideology in which the free market trumps government involvement, Romney would, indeed, offer a stark alternative to the Obama administration on economic, defense and social issues.
In fact, this newspaper does not embrace many of his ideas on taxation, which give too great a reward to the wealthy and not enough help for the poor and middle class. If Romney is elected, we hope he moves closer to the center.
In a region where a candidate’s faith is given great significance, many voters may distrust Romney’s religious background as a Mormon, but none can argue with his family and personal life. Romney has withstood — without blemish — the vetting of two national campaigns.
The most recent poll from Capital Survey Research Center shows Alabamians may be slowly embracing Romney. About 29 percent of the poll participants support Romney, which puts him 5 points ahead of Gingrich and 9 ahead of Santorum.
With President Obama’s popularity growing — on the wings of an improving economy, successful military operations and a rebounding auto industry — Republicans are seeking a winning candidate in November. We believe that candidate is Mitt Romney.

What did we learn from the cuts? That 1) the paper is endorsing Romney in part because the other guys can't possibly win, that 2) it wants Romney to own his health care law, and that 3) his tax plan is too 1%-friendly.

*A note for younger readers: "Newspapers" are periodical collections of facts and advertisements. They were very popular in the 19th and 20th centuries.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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