Back from the Dead: Romney to Make 2012 Bid

Back from the Dead: Romney to Make 2012 Bid

‘I’ve never seen an enterprise in more desperate need of a turnaround than the U.S. government’


Race for 2012 GOP nomination heats up (NBC “Today,” June 1, 2010) – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is to officially announce in New Hampshire that he’s running for president. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports on Romney as well as Sarah Palin’s bus tour and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter troubles. (03:30)

By Calvin Woodward and Nancy Benac

June 2, 2011

WASHINGTON — What are the odds of this? A guy gets into a head-on collision, has a police officer write “He is dead” at the scene, and lives to tell.

Mitt Romney knows a thing or two about second chances.

After that long-ago highway collision when he was a young missionary serving in France, Romney earned an outsized reputation and millions of dollars as a corporate turnaround artist, fixing bottom lines, cleaning up the scandal-tarred Salt Lake City Olympics and giving various other endeavors a second wind.

Now he is determined to do that for himself. (And his country, he would say.)

“I’ve never seen an enterprise in more desperate need of a turnaround than the U.S. government,” Romney says.

An also-ran to John McCain in the 2008 Republican nomination fight, Romney is the closest thing to a front-runner that the still-jelling GOP presidential field for 2012 has to offer. …

With his good looks, able fundraising, strong political organization, solid family and business acumen, Romney sounds like a candidate ordered from central casting to run in a time of economic stress.

But to succeed where he failed four years ago, Romney, 64, will need to convince voters that behind the picture-perfect presentation lurks a human being with a passion to lead and an unshakeable set of convictions.

Moderate or conservative?

The rap against Romney in 2008 was that he’d conveniently reinvented himself to fit the political environment of the day.

The man who’d governed Massachusetts as a pro-abortion rights moderate and delivered a bold statewide plan for universal health care coverage offered himself to Republicans as an anti-abortion social conservative who advocated limited government.

And that set off authenticity alarm bells with voters around the country. Pundits who thought his Mormon faith might be a problem for him concluded his changing political convictions probably caused him more grief.

This time around, Romney hopes the campaign for the GOP nomination will roll down his “power alley” — the economy and his business background — and away from social issues that bogged him down.

He’s coming across as a little looser in the process. After he got into a tiff with a rapper onboard an aircraft last year, the well-gelled Romney joked that the singer “broke my hair.”

Over the past four years, he wrote a book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” built a political machine and cultivated diverse friends.

The dust had hardly settled on the bruising nomination struggle of 2008 when Romney threw himself behind the candidate who had defeated him, began raising money for Republicans across the country and started pushing all the right buttons in the party.

Watching this unfold, Republican strategist Mary Matalin was struck by how Romney, in seeking common cause with the party’s religious, intellectual and economic forces, may have “the greatest potential to pull all those factions together” even though other candidates may stir more passion in their core followers. …

Romney’s background

Son of George Romney, who was chairman of the old American Motors, a Michigan governor and failed Republican presidential hopeful in the 1960s, Willard Mitt Romney earned simultaneous law and business degrees at Harvard on his way to a high-flying corporate career that would take a turn to politics.

He worked for Boston Consulting Group, helping companies fatten their bottom lines. Then he moved to rival Bain & Co., where he led a new spinoff, Bain Capital, which combined management consulting with investments in promising companies.

He helped start or reinvigorate hundreds of companies, Staples and Domino’s Pizza among them, on his way to amassing a personal fortune.

It’s just the resume the country needs, says Romney, who calls Obama “one of the most ineffective presidents” he’s ever seen. …

Romney cemented his reputation as a turnaround artist when he stepped in to clean up the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, reeling with accusations of bribery and resignations from the organizing committee.

He cut costs, boosted revenues and oversaw a successful event despite the dark shadow over the nation from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

That made it a ripe time to reawaken his political ambition. Republicans recruited him to run for governor in deeply Democratic Massachusetts. Backed by $6 million of his own money, he won.

The combination of fiscally conservative and socially moderate policies he brought to that race proved a winning formula in the state, but complicated the 2008 primaries, which are dominated by conservative voters. His challenge then remains his challenge now on the road to 2012.

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