Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, shared his softer side Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention, but he needs to explain the hard facts of his economic plans. | STAN HONDA~AFP/GettyImages
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:04PM
America now knows that Mitt Romney still makes his wife laugh after 42 years of marriage, shops at Costco and is quietly charitable for all the right reasons.
The effort to humanize Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is in full swing in Tampa, Fla., site of this week’s Republican national convention.
For good reason.
For all of Romney’s success in business and government and the compelling testimonials about his work ethic and humility, he doesn’t connect with voters — rich ones, poor ones and everyone in between.
He’s stiff and clumsy, and that’s a problem in a presidential election.
So, by all means, the Republican Party should show America Romney’s cuddly side.
But, as Romney knows in his core, that’s not what’s going to get him across the finish line.
Romney’s job Thursday night, as he accepts his party’s nomination for president, is to tell Americans how he will attempt to fix our sputtering economy and how a Romney administration will confront the government’s staggering debt.
He has to come across as a real guy, an American we can trust. But Romney also must begin to spell out his plans in a way he has failed to do so far — what he would cut and how he will make up revenue lost by cutting taxes.
Some of what Romney has put out so far doesn’t add up, particularly his tax overhaul plan. An independent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that Romney’s plan would result in much lower taxes for the wealthy and tax increases for everyone else.
Romney’s camp disagrees, saying tax cuts would be offset by ending tax loopholes, not by raising taxes elsewhere. But he has failed to name the loopholes, and the Tax Policy Center, which includes Democrats and Republicans, found that ending every last loophole still wouldn’t cut it. Romney’s campaign has attacked the report as biased and say it fails to account for economic growth resulting from tax cuts. But the study’s authors, which include a former economic adviser to President George H.W. Bush, say they did include growth estimates.
A convention speech, of course, is no place to lay out in excruciating detail every business loophole to be closed and every government program to be cut.
And we get Romney’s strategy of attacking Obama and laying out only in vague terms what he would do differently. That’s likely to dominate his speech, and it makes political sense. Romney is running against an incumbent who hasn’t successfully pulled America out of a recession, though Republicans have blocked many of Obama’s ideas. Beating up on the incumbent may, in fact, be a more winning strategy in the short term.
But closing the deal with American voters requires more. Americans deserve to hear detailed fiscal plans when Romney takes the big stage on Thursday — plus a promise of a lot more to come soon.
In this vacuum, voters are left guessing. Romney has changed positions over the years, tilting right as he hit the national scene. Are his current positions on health care, business regulations and abortion firm or will they change?
What we do know for sure is where his running mate, fiscal and social conservative Paul Ryan, stands. Ryan and Romney like to remind voters who is at the top of the ticket, but Ryan represents a powerful wing of the party with which a President Romney would have to tangle.
At the convention on Tuesday, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu heralded Romney as a man who can “fix the unfixable.” Later, his wife told millions of TV viewers: “This man will not fail.”
But how will he pull it off? That is the inner Romney voters really want to know.