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Brown: Romney has my respect — but not my vote

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney hugs supporter as he walks stage during Republican National ConventiTampFla. Thursday Aug. 30 2012. (AP

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney hugs a supporter as he walks to the stage during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Updated: October 1, 2012 6:04PM



TAMPA, Fla. — There will be plenty of time between now and November for me to work up a good mad about Mitt Romney, but as he stepped to the podium Thursday night to accept the Republican presidential nomination, he hadn’t pushed my buttons yet.

His vanilla, feel-good speech with its vision of a future intended to recall Ronald Reagan’s fuzzy-focused 1980 Morning in America did nothing to alter that, not even after watching Clint Eastwood ruin my day.

Not even a liberal could have anything against a “united America [that] will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need,” as Romney envisions.

It’s possible my favorable opinion of Romney is due to knowing too little about him, though I’m comfortable enough with what I do know. I believed Romney to be decent, honorable, capable and accomplished, without yet having seen the video made from his family home movies.

Watching the Republican primary campaigns, my opinion from the start was that Romney was the logical choice to lead his party, the one who could be president.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was blathering here the other night about it being more important to be respected than liked, which is true enough. After catching Christie’s act, I don’t foresee either ever applying to my opinion of him.

Mitt Romney has my respect. So does Barack Obama.

That’s the point.

We don’t have to pretend that the other guy in every political fight is the devil’s secret handmaiden.

Mitt Romney will never get my vote, but if the majority of the American electorate — and those pesky electors — decide otherwise, then I can live with that.

I don’t fear the prospect of Romney in the White House.

What I fear is doing anything to further empower the Republican Party I’ve seen on display this week — the party that wants to pretend that a popularly elected mainstream Democratic president is a traitorous communist dictator hellbent on undermining the Constitution. There’s no other way to explain V-P nominee Paul Ryan’s screed against the “central planners.”

Such political messaging is as unnecessary as it is dangerous. John McCain knew this in 2008, though bitterness may have clouded his understanding in the intervening years.

I respect Mitt Romney even though I know he has played into that dangerous mindset this week, sending forth a succession of speakers with messages intended to whip up the margins of a GOP faithful that at heart is as is interested in rolling back progress on social issues as growing jobs.

The Wisconsin congressman may have helped Romney show conservative Republicans that he’s serious about cutting government spending, but Romney better be careful how he uses him on the campaign trail because Ryan is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way.

Ryan’s selection, the early convention programming and those misleading television commercials about Obama trying to undercut welfare reform all speak to a ruthless side to Romney that we don’t see on public display.

Some voters will set aside the social issues this year in hopes of electing a president who can turn around the country. That’s a decision I can understand.

Though I can’t seem to help myself from jabbing Romney for being a rich guy, I respect the fact that Romney was a successful businessman who figured out how to make oodles of money.

I respect him more now that he acknowledged that his self-made success story received a very nice head start as the well-to-do son of the chairman of a major U.S. automaker who became governor of Michigan.

If he becomes President, I wouldn’t really expect Romney to turn the economy around, though it might happen on his watch, and I would be happy if it did.

Would Republicans feel the same if it happened on Barack Obama’s?



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