"I am also a believer in the free-enterprise system. I believe it can bring change where so many well-meaning government programs have failed. I've never heard anyone look around an impoverished neighborhood and say: 'You know, there's too much free enterprise around here. Too many shops, too many jobs, too many people putting money in the bank.'"
Nice. As with the true story of Romneycare (a subject I addressed in a recent column), Romney had a good story to tell about his record in Massachusetts. Romney had pushed for higher standards, merit pay for outstanding teachers and greater parental choice through expanded charter schools. This provoked the ire of the Massachusetts teachers unions, who were able to get the legislature to pass a moratorium on new charter schools. Romney recalled: "As governor, I vetoed the bill blocking charter schools. But our legislature was 87 percent Democrat, and my veto could have been easily overridden. So I joined with the Black Legislative Caucus, and their votes helped preserve my veto, which meant that new charter schools, including some in urban neighborhoods, would be opened."
In one deft stroke, Romney placed himself on the side of poor kids who deserve better from the education system, while also reminding his somewhat hidebound audience that many African-Americans agree with him.
Finally, while few seemed to notice, Romney mentioned one aspect of his planned reform of entitlements that contradicts the caricature of him as the candidate of the rich. As part of a plan to reduce soaring entitlement spending, he said, he would reform Social Security and Medicare, "in part by means-testing their benefits."
Is this not exactly the sort of straight talk pundits and analysts are forever lamenting the lack of in our politics? Is it not the polar opposite of the interest group chuck wagon President Obama has been driving for months?
It is. And if Romney keeps this up, it will be remembered as a turning point in the campaign.
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