For weeks the media has complained that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been shielded from probing interviews. The criticism is valid. With the exception of a recent Bret Baier interview on Fox News Channel, Romney's staffers have tried to preserve what they believe to be his inevitable nomination by allowing other GOP candidates to stand in the spotlight, garnering the most scrutiny.
The criticism and Romney's failure to break away from the crowded Republican field has prompted him to do more interviews.
In a telephone conversation following a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) in Washington, I asked Romney why his candidacy has not resonated with Republican voters, spawning according to Jeremy Peters of the New York Times, "...a recurrent "anybody but Mitt" drumbeat from right-leaning pundits and media outlets..."
Romney, acknowledging he was "the conservative alternative in 2008," said, "I think people want to have a chance to have a look at the other people who are running this time and get to know them better." And while his poll numbers have not risen above 25 percent, he says he is pleased that he has "...always remained among the leading contenders."
Romney predicts he will get the delegates he needs to win the nomination.
To assuage doubts, he promised to select people (and judges) with the same philosophical qualities as conservative Justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. "I want men and women who are extraordinarily bright, who have a track record that can be thoroughly examined and who share my values."
Of those values, self-reliance is one. In his speech to the RJC, Romney criticized the entitlement mentality of the Democrats and of those who look to government, rather than themselves for sustenance. So how would he break the addiction to government assistance, especially when, according to a recent Department of Agriculture report, 15 percent of Americans receive food stamps? How would he tackle high unemployment? Tax cuts and tax increases?
"With difficulty," he acknowledges, but he'll appeal to patriotism: "When people understand what is at stake -- the very nature of our country and our capacity to protect our freedom and provide prosperity for the next generation, then they will rally to the cause."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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