Romney has already demonstrated an ability to lead. While governor he's turned around a $3 billion deficit without raising taxes (in "Taxachusetts"!) and has taken a hard-line stand on illegal immigration. Romney also refused to budge when lightening-laced bricks came down on him for arguing during a D.C. speech that some U.S. mosques, which reportedly preach jihad against the United States, should be under surveillance. He made a common-sense argument and refused to falter under fire. In conservative circles, his biggest perception problem is on abortion. His campaign vowed that he would not change the state's abortion laws, and he's stuck by that. But that makes many abortion opponents nervous.
However, in recent months Romney vetoed a bill that would have given kids access to emergency contraception without their parent's knowledge. That's good sense. With his experience with the cloning and the emergency contraception fight adding to his now national focus, he clearly has had to rework his abortion position.
If you're willing to believe him, there's something of a sensible evolution there. This summer he wrote: "In considering the issue of embryo cloning and embryo farming, I saw where the harsh logic of abortion can lead -- to the view of innocent new life as nothing more than research material or a commodity to be exploited." He sees all these big culture-of-life issues in a "Brave New World" framework.
As more Americans meet Mitt Romney, I think they'll see beyond the handsome exterior and see not just a good salesman, but a thoughtful (and, yes, conservative) leader.