Kathryn Lopez


The mid-July rumor that Mitt Romney might pick former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate was a fun Matt Drudge scoop for those in the country who live off political-campaign gossip. It was candy for junkies looking for a pre-convention news high, this one a natural coming after Ann Romney's offering that the former governor of Massachusetts might be eyeing a woman to fill the slot.

A woman is a good idea. Or a Marco Rubio. A Bobby Jindal. That's the unsolicited advice one political veteran offered while discussing Mitt Romney's potential vice-presidential pick. Most importantly, he said, "you've got to go to the future." Oddly, that's what the Condi rumors reflected, despite the fact that she had already been President George W. Bush's secretary of state.

But the insistence that Romney needs to make up for something he lacks, namely star appeal and a forward-looking vision, misses a central point about him: He's already all about winning the future, to borrow a phrase. And he knows it. And -- if a recent speech is any indication -- he's ready to let you know it.

You can take a look at his successful business decisions, his "turnaround" of the scandal-crippled Olympics, or his time in Massachusetts. Or you can talk to a cab driver from Nigeria, one who's been a U.S. citizen for 16 years, having come here after living in Germany. He's always voted Republican, but he's had misgivings about Romney and this whole "repeal Obamacare" business. "You're just going to tear it down and walk away?" he'd wondered. On his cab radio, he heard about the "repeal" but nothing else. He was a bit perplexed, given that Romney seems to know a thing or two about health care, and has more experience with it than the average pol -- something that, oddly, tends to be brought up by his detractors more than his advocates.

All of the seniors-will-lose-out scare tactics from the Left had been getting to him, the cabbie told me while we sat in D.C. traffic. And then Romney spoke to the NAACP. "For the first time since coming here, I heard what I've been waiting to hear from a presidential candidate," he said.

With that speech, Romney began to alleviate the health care security concerns of the taxi driver and his wife of 40 years. After Romney was booed (the most-reported fact about the event, of course) at the NAACP convention for saying the same thing that he says to more receptive audiences -- that he will repeal Obamacare -- he went off-script. He started talking a little about what he would do, and showed why we absolutely need him to do it.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.