Lunch With Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney, Massachusetts Governor, 11-24-03
This column was written by Kathryn Jean Lopez.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney may be just another white male on the national stage, but he's one step ahead of John Roberts already.

In a speech at a Manhattan Institute-sponsored lunch at the Harvard Club in New York City on Monday that sounded like a toned-down 2008 stump speech, Romney smartly noted that he had been instrumental in fighting for women's bobsledding in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (which he organized). That information -- combined with his refusing to roll into his speech without introducing his wife and daughter-in-law -- makes clear that Romney knows the way it is. He doesn't need to get the scoop from John "Neanderthal" Roberts.

Introduced as a "compassionate conservative" by former Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith, Romney presented himself today as a practical problem-solver who got a deficit-ridden commonwealth to show a surplus -- without raising taxes, cutting education, or cutting funds for the homeless. What Romney did instead was slash inefficiency in government.

In broad strokes, Romney then addressed the war on terror -- saying that "I do not believe that we should cut and run" in Iraq. He talked about the need to focus more resources on preventative homeland-security and intelligence reform. The governor -- also a businessman who at one point was part of a Domino's Pizza company purchase from its founder Tom Monaghan -- also talked about the economic war with China.

He hit on old standbys -- the tax structure is "burdensome," the tort system is "confiscatory." He emphasized personal responsibility, pointing out the difference between Massachusetts' helping someone who has been "knocked down" in Louisiana get back up vs. handouts to residents of his own state. In the latter case, he said, a "we'll take care of you [for] the rest of your life" mentality on the part of government is "deadening to [recipients], their children, and society."

And speaking of children and society: His "family" talk was there but light, his battles over marriage and culture-of-life issues understated on this lunch menu -- likely because he knew his audience. Rudy zone.