A strong supporter of charter schools -- Romney vetoed the Legislature's attempt to freeze the number of them -- he finds, as education reformers always do, that the teachers unions are the impediment. In the political competition in a one party state, he says, primaries are ``everything.'' Public employees unions are crucial in primaries, so elected officials wind up negotiating with those who, in effect, elected them.
On national issues, he says: ``You can't maintain, over time, a tier-one military with a tier-two economy'' -- and a tier-one economy depends on higher education. He notes that a few miles away at MIT, 36 percent of the graduate students are from abroad, which is fine -- unless it indicates that American students are lagging in interests or aptitudes.
In the 44 years since Massachusetts provided the last U.S. senator elected president, 35 sitting senators have sought, with varying degrees of seriousness, presidential nominations. Both parties know that governors are better bets. Romney's disadvantage will be that, given his Legislature, he has had no real opportunity to advance a conservative agenda.
However, thanks to the state's Supreme Judicial Court, he lives at ground zero in the same-sex marriage debate, and he has pleased social conservatives by opposing resolution of the debate by judicial fiat. He endorses ``moral federalism'' -- the right of each state to legislate its own consensus -- but testified before Congress in support of an anti-same-sex marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Until recently, he has not been raising money at a clip that indicates a firm commitment to seek re-election in 2006. He says he anticipates running again but if he wants to be in the 2008 presidential mix, he might benefit from a Washington job with national security dimensions. His Olympics experience was good training for future secretary of homeland security.
In Massachusetts, both senators and all 10 members of Congress are Democrats, and in the last ten 10 presidential elections voters have favored Democratic candidates by a higher average -- 16 points -- than any other state. Strange but true: Massachusetts is an unlikely place to discern a potential Republican presidential aspirant, but on recent evidence (1988, 2004) it is a ruinous source of Democratic presidential nominees.