TAMPA—We've all probably read too much about Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's ability to define himself and connect with voters. And without a doubt, the first question that will be asked by commentators when he completes his speech this evening will be whether he was effective in making the connection and the sale.
Speaking from the perspective of someone who watched him closely during the 2008 primaries when I was a national spokesperson for Sen.John McCain, and who then worked side by side with him as an advocate of the Republican ticket in the general election, it struck me how much more comfortable he was singing someone else's praises than his own.
Mitt Romney was, without reservation, candidate John McCain's strongest surrogate speaker. He was brilliant, informed, articulate, and extremely resourceful. He relaxes into the battle when he is fighting for another person or cause.
After listening to Ann Romney's portrait of her husband Tuesday night, everything clicked: This is a guy who grew up in a family and a culture where one's actions defined the individual and where "blowing your own horn" was the antithesis of what was done. It explains why his accomplishments are so profound, but why he seems awkward and uncomfortable waxing rhapsodic about them. It also explains why the Romneys don't even want to draw attention to their charitable giving. In children who are well raised, it's the kind of thing that's just not done. And in business, where Romney spent most of his career, the bottomline results tell a story as plain as the score at the end of a football game. In other words, actions speak louder than words.
On the other hand, when it comes to selling a product, an idea, or even another person for president of the United States, it's OK to toot that horn, and that's where we discover what an extraordinary advocate Mitt Romney is. Again and again in other venues he has proved himself to be an informed, articulate, strategic, tireless resourceful—in short, a first class advocate.
And by the way, that's exactly what we are going to need over the next four years. America's problems are on the cusp of being so profound that even the most slippery of politicians will not much longer be able to escape their grasp. The day of reckoning is coming. The present is unsustainable, and it will take an advocate of extraordinary skill to create the consensus in America to move this nation forward again.
I'll end with a prediction: Two years from now, President Romney will not be trying to blame Congress for his lack of progress in getting our economy moving again and in taming government growth that is out of control. Rather, he'll be celebrating his success with Democrats and Republicans at getting our country moving again.
Leadership not only makes a difference. In times of crisis it makes all the difference. Mitt Romney is a leader of ability and humility. He is the right man for the hour.