Belding: Romney got my caucus vote, and here’s why


Nicole Wiegand

Mitt Romney, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, answers questions from supporters during a campaign stop at Kinzler Construction in Ames on Thursday, Dec. 29. Much of Romney’s time in Ames was spent interacting with those in attendance.

Michael Belding

Let me tell you, I had one heck of a time deciding who to vote for Tuesday night at my hometown caucuses. People around the newsroom here know how I feel about a few of the candidates — I have special words reserved in my vocabulary for Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman’s moderacy appeals to me — but I was still unsure whose name I’d put an X by until 7:55 p.m., when I actually did it.

I hopped into my car to drive to my caucuses well in advance of the 7 p.m. starting time, and what song should come on the radio but U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

I am certain that my life has not ever seen a more apt scene.

In the interest of being completely honest with you, though, I will say this: I formed a pretty good idea of who I’d vote for in the afternoon, and explained the options to my curious stepmother over dinner.

My choice for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was a reasoned one. It was not the spur of the moment, off the cuff, “Oh, what the hell?” kind of choice that I make often.

The goal of the Republican Party is beating President Barack Obama. It is getting rid of him and, in their words, his socialist policies that are ruining America and what it means to be America. Based on what I heard from candidates’ surrogates at the caucuses during their five minutes of allotted speech time, any president whose name is not Barack Obama will do better than the present administration.

Romney is the organization as well as the money. Having the support of establishment, maybe even RINO (Republican In Name Only) donors and voters, his fundraising ability is well connected. Endorsers and workers from his campaign from four years ago are sure to repeat their experience again, to his advantage.

In 2008, he didn’t drop out of the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He suspended his campaign as if he was waiting for another, more favorable opportunity. And this time around, it seems like he has it. His organization is as old as Obama’s.

Romney is also moderate enough for some of the large independent or swing-voter bloc to vote for him, should he be the GOP nominee, and conservative enough for lots of the Republican believers and members of the party base to vote for him as well. Social issues have taken less of the limelight this election cycle, with an economy struggling to right itself, and his experience in business appeals to many capitalist-minded Republicans.

One of the main concerns Republicans have is finding a candidate to debate Obama. The worry is that he will eat, chew up and spit back out anyone he goes up against.

Bachmann gets her facts wrong all the time. Gingrich is an ideas man and policy wonk if ever there was one, but people see him as too flighty with ideas to hold them for very long. Huntsman is probably too moderate or realistic to command any faith in an Obama-Huntsman debate, and Perry famously forgot the third federal department he would eliminate. Paul’s ideas are sound if you think about them and their origins, but take more than a 30-second sound bite to explain. Santorum’s social conservative views on abortion, guns and marriage and his neo-conservative views on Muslim countries almost ensure that he will come off as bigoted or crazy to many viewers.

Romney, however, in debates this election cycle and last, has been relatively cool. Calm, collected, little seems to get under his skin or phase him. He even offered a wager of $10,000 during a recent debate, and I can almost imagine him saying, like President Reagan, “There you go again” when Obama repeats his talking points.

The thing that really caught my attention though was a statement by the Romney supporter speaking at my precinct caucus. It is irrelevant what a candidate for president says he or she will accomplish. It only matters what Congress will allow him to do. The speaker’s faith in Romney’s ability to realize that and take it into account spoke volumes to me.

So there you have it: how I ended up voting for Mitt Romney. Remember — that opinion is my own. It belongs to my columnists, anyone else on the Daily staff and my Editorial Board about as much as it belongs to my wristwatch — that is, not at all.