With the Iowa primary quickly approaching, and the Religious Right firmly opposed to a Mormon president, Mitt Romney turns to those who offer the highest capacity for winning sympathy; business owners who are stimulated by Romney’s experience in the private sector.
In a smart campaign move, Romney decides to focus on his strong points, economics. Romney’s experience in the corporate world is unmatched by other presidential contenders. This truth gives him an upper-hand among sympathetic business owners across the country, and particularly in campaign battleground, Iowa.
The New York Times quotes a Romney supporter: “’I tell them where I think he has his pluses over the others,’ said Mr. Maass, who caucused for Mr. Romney in 2008 and plans to do so again next week. ‘He was successful in creating jobs and successful in business, and that’s why I continue to support him.’” Mr. Maass is one of nearly 100 agribusiness leaders and small-business men who will be speaking for Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, on caucus night.
This focus on Romney’s business credentials are a break from 2008’s round of primaries, in which Romney campaigned strongly on conservative social policy and aggressive foreign policy. The New York Times reports: “Four years ago, the Romney campaign aggressively pursued Iowa’s evangelical voters, only to see them coalesce around former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a Baptist minister, at the last minute.”
A pragmatic business executive, Romney will not make the same mistake twice. His most recent television ad touts campaign promises of economic prosperity and stress on family values. Stressing “family values” gets him into bed with many of the Christian values voters without pointing out his own religious preference. Despite a constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, the presidency seems to be a glass ceiling that non-Christians have never been able to break.
So in more realistic plan to woo moderate voters, the New York Times reports: “His Iowa staff members pored through directories for business organizations, identifying leaders and influential community members in four main areas: agribusiness, manufacturing, community banks and rural cooperatives.” The plan has unfolded swimmingly so far, as: “more than 100 business and community leaders have joined Mr. Romney’s volunteer army — lobbying for him in both formal and informal ways, and speaking on his behalf on caucus night.”
One such business leader, Roger Underwood — a former Tim Pawlenty supporter before his withdrawal from the race—claims to have spoken to over 60 business leaders in his community about the strong leadership of Mitt Romney: “I’ll identify people who are leaders in agribusiness, and I’ll reach out to them and make sure they understand who Governor Romney is, and what Governor Romney is trying to communicate to people,” Mr. Underwood said. “It’s a trickle-down effect and a trickle-up effect and a trickle-across effect — and really trickle everywhere, I guess.”
So there it is, a business plan for a business candidate. Bold, for sure, though risky. With the Iowa primaries quickly approaching, we will soon see whether Romney’s plan will sink or float.