VIEWPOINTS: Come one, come all

Steffen Schmidt

It’s going to be a long Iowa presidential caucus season.

We’ve already had Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, George Pataki and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in Iowa. This week we had former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Mass Gov. Mitt Romney in town.

Romney was in Des Moines and Ames to sell and autograph books. It had nothing to do with politics and surely nothing to do with him sniffing out a potential caucus bid for the 2010 GOP race for the White House.

Is Iowa on the list of every book author as a major market for book signing?

I think not.

Is Romney exploring a run in 2012?

Of course he is. I was going to ask him, but I could not get a five-minute slot to do a quick interview for Insider Iowa. He was too busy signing away.

Is Iowa a good place for Romney to bid for the top spot in 2012? Not really because he is not “really” a social conservative, so in the Iowa GOP he’d be toast.

He is pretty smart on business and economics, though, and that should count for a lot in these dreadful times. “Run government like a business,” I say. That is, so long as it’s not AIG, Lehman Brothers, the U.S. Auto Industry, the U.S. airlines, the mortgage industry, the housing industry, ENRON, Madoff, JP Morgan or Bear Sterns.

Of course, these and other private companies that were run like a business ended up showing no common sense and, in many cases, corruption and mismanagement that no government agency could get away with.

Romney is also excellent on health care coverage. He was the architect of the Massachusetts universal mandatory health care coverage law that is now in effect in that state. So he’d be the perfect president of the United States to implement and to improve the new federal health care program.

Oddly enough, he has come out against that health care reform, I guess because he’s a “states’ righter” who believes that states should be in control of their own education, health care and other such policies.

“America has unfortunately been taken down the wrong path by President [Barack] Obama, which is why it’s critical we elect fiscally responsible conservative leaders who will restore commonsense principles to health care,” Romney said recently.

Romney has a group called “Free and Strong America Political Action Committee.” It has just launched a project, “Prescription for Repeal.” The group will support with campaign contributions Republican candidates who are running in the 2010 elections on a platform of repealing “the worst aspects” of the health care law signed by Obama.

Most people I’ve talked to and many pundits think it will be a brutal uphill crawl for the champion of mandatory health care in Massachusetts to now become the champion of fighting against national health care and insurance reform.

One of the other problems is that Romney’s entire history is that of a moderate Republican. How will he jump on the bandwagon of the unruly, angry and edgy tea baggers who are now the most dynamic and visible force in the GOP?

On the other hand, Scott Brown became a senator of Massachusetts, even though he’s relatively moderate — no other Republican could get elected in the bluest state in the country — and Brown supported the Massachusetts health care program that Romney constructed there.

In fact, Romney has claimed responsibility for Brown’s success in winning the off-year election to fill Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat.

In any case, we are all happy to welcome one and all Republican wannabes for 2012 in Iowa.

Our Holiday Inn’s still have empty rooms; the TV stations are drooling about the advertising; the bookstores are ready for the book signings; and our economic development needs the “stimulus” of a big, rowdy and expensive GOP bid for top dog of the party for the next presidential contest.

Steffen Schmidt is a professor of political science and chief political correspondent for