A rather surprising and positive interview from the Christian Broadcast Network News division of Governor Mitt Romney. There is an article as well as a live interview on the CBN website.You can read the article here, and watch the intereview here. I’ve been following Romney for sometime; but, there were even a few things I learned for the first time. The story’s title is “The Almost Untold Story of Gov. Mitt Romney.” This has reference to a near fatal accident he had while serving his mission in France:
In Paris 1968, 21-year-old Romney was on a Mormon missionary trip when his car was hit head on, knocking him unconscious.
“The police that arrived on the scene had to get us out with the Jaws of Life, and in my case, they took my passport and wrote ‘il est mort’ – ‘he is dead,’” Romney said.
When the news back home reported him dead, his father, the governor of Michigan at the time, didn’t believe it. He called the French police to confirm, but learned that the reports had been wrong. His son was alive.
The story continues the “turn around theme” throughout and has quite a positive spin, given the fact that the interview was conducted by an evangelical broadcast network:
And so it goes with Mitt Romney. Turning around that near-death experience is a theme that has followed him through much of his life. Just when it appears all is lost, he’s able to find an answer.
The New York Times calls him a turnaround specialist. Romney knows when to take advantage of positive press. In fact, his only book is called Turnaround.
He was the successful founder of a capital investment group in the 1980s. During the 1990s, he took over the Salt Lake City Olympics, plagued by corruption and a $400 million deficit. He turned a $100 million profit and the games went down as one of the best ever.
Fast forward to today – he’s the conservative governor of Massachusetts, facing a state legislature made up mostly of Democrats.
On day one of taking office, Gov. Romney inherited a $3 billion deficit. He was determined to fix it, even while promising not to raise taxes.
After cutting spending and finding plenty of government waste, today there’s a budget surplus. He also won on universal healthcare.
Massachusetts is now the first state in the country to require health care for everyone.
Of course the big issue and question revolved around Romney’s presidential aspirations:
Romney is stepping down this year, after just one four-year term. Today, he travels the country a lot, spending time in places like Iowa – the site of one of the first presidential caucuses in 2008.
A growing number of Republican activists are claiming that Romney is the party’s best bet to be the Republican nominee in 2008. CBN News put the big questions to Romney, including asking about his presidential aspirations for 2008.
“Well, I’ll give that some thought,” Romney said. “Clearly, I want the option of making that decision.”
He has the resume for it and the reviews so far have been positive. There have been cover stories like “Matinee Mitt,” “Romney Rocks,” and “Lord of the Rings.” There’s even a “Mitt Romney for President” blog site.
Then, there is the religion question that crops up in any major (or minor for that matter) Romney interview. He’s getting better and better at handling the religion issue:
The country may face challenges, but so does the governor – in particular, his religion. He’s Mormon. Some, including several evangelicals, believe Mormonism is a cult. The Southern Baptist Convention Web site includes Mormonism as a cult on their a major cults and sects in America page.
But the labeling doesn’t phase him, he said.
“Well, there’s very little that bothers me,” he said. “And that’s in part because when people make references that I disagree with, I generally conclude that they don’t have all the facts, and if they had all the facts they’d feel differently.”
This could be a problem with voters. According to a some polls, about 17 percent of voters say they just won’t vote for a Mormon.
But such responses are not something Romney said he believed would hinder him in the long run.
“I think Americans want people of faith to lead their country,” he said. “Generally they don’t care so much about the particular brand of faith, if the people that they’re looking at have the same values they have. And people of my faith have the values of other great religions that are represented here in this country.
If Romney believes he has been beating the odds his whole life, this “Mormon issue” could be the latest chapter.
“People said, well gee, can a Mormon win here in a state that’s, what – 50 to 55 percent Catholic?” Romney said. “Well, the answer is yes! Could an actor who’d been divorced win as President? Yes. Ronald Reagan was able to do that,”
Mitt’s going to play both the Ronald Reagan card and the JFK card when it comes to his own potential for winning the White House. This interview by CBN was important not just for who conducted the interview; but, also the very positive things that came out. I’d score this one as a pretty big PR win for Romney. So much is made of the evangelical role and whether they will or will not vote for a Mormon. I have to think that this interview on a major evangelical news site is a good sign for the Romney Campaign. Read the story and watch the interview–they’re both worth the time.