Margaret Hoover for CNN: Romney's best bet: Be Mr. Fix-it

October 3rd, 2012

October 3, 2012
By Margaret Hoover



(CNN) — Here’s some unsolicited advice for Team Romney as it prepares for 2012’s high-stakes first debate: Bring back Mitt-the-Fixer, the problem-solver and economic turnaround artist extraordinaire. This core Romney claim should return center-stage in Denver.

Everyone knows Washington is broken. Congress’ dismally low 10% approval rating, the lowest in 38 years, is evidence of President Obama’s fizzled hope for change.

We’re constantly hearing that polarization is poisoning our politics.

People want our elected officials to govern and for government to work. And Obama isn’t working. The president admitted it himself when he confessed at the Univision debate that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.”

With an economy on the precipice of a fiscal cliff that the Congressional Budget Office says will become a recession if not addressed quickly in the next Congress, America can’t afford a president who cannot work successfully with what will most likely be a Republican House of Representatives.

In this pivotal first debate, Romney should remind Independent voters that despite all the talk of unity, Obama has presided over a more divided country. And it simply isn’t credible to just blame the tea party, House Speaker John Boehner or President George W. Bush. If President Clinton and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich could reform welfare, if President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neal could save Social Security, why couldn’t Obama and Boehner achieve a grand bargain? Maybe there’s something to the left-of-center critiques that fault Obama as a bad negotiator.

His two major legislative feats, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act, he delegated away to liberal congressional tacticians and garnered essentially no bipartisan support. He walked away from Bowles-Simpson — his own bipartisan fiscal commission. And, of course, the grand bargain fell apart. Yes, Obama had obstinate Republicans in the House that contributed mightily to gridlock. But was it just the fault of Republicans in Congress?

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