Another brilliant NewsMax article by Ronald Kessler:
Excerpts from "Mitt Romney Rises to the Top"
Ronald KesslerMonday, May 14, 2007
Suddenly, the mainstream media are taking Mitt Romney seriously.
"60 Minutes" just featured Romney as its lead story Sunday night. Time magazine has Romney on the cover this week. The Romney campaign is besieged with interview requests.
The surge in interest follows Romney's widely perceived "win" in the Republican debate on May 3. A recent New Hampshire poll has Romney leading the GOP pack in the key primary state.
"The last couple of weeks have been important for Mitt Romney in terms of enlarging his presence on the national stage," Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's traveling press secretary, tells me.
From the beginning, he says, "We expected there would be a long run-up to the time when people around the country got to know Mitt Romney, but that once they did, they would respond positively to his record of leadership in the private sector, running the Olympics and as governor."
Still, the media focus on atmospherics, Romney's Mormon religion, and his change in position on abortion, rather his record of accomplishment and character.
Instead of focusing on these facts, Time devotes almost 40 percent of its coverage of Romney to his religion and the question of whether Evangelicals will vote for a Mormon. Yet, as Time quotes Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's public-policy arm, "Southern Baptists understand they are voting for a commander in chief, not a theologian in chief."
Nor can the New York Times resist taking a dig at Romney by distorting his success story. In a May 12 story, the paper says, "Although he often tells crowds that he started in a ‘small business,' the company [Bain Capital] began with an initial fund of $40 million and eventually controlled billions in assets."
In fact, Romney began Bain Capital with zip: He spent a year raising $37 million to start the company. By investing in companies like Staples even before the office supply firm opened its first store, Romney turned Bain Capital into one of the three or four largest venture capital firms in the world. During the 14 years Romney headed Bain Capital, its annual average internal rate of return on realized investments was more than 100 percent.
Unlike much of the media coverage, the "60 Minutes" portrait of Romney was generally fair. In the interview, Romney went further than he has in the past to point out that the Bush administration made many mistakes in planning for a post-invasion Iraq.
"I think the administration made a number of errors," he told Mike Wallace. "I don't think we were adequately prepared for what occurred. I don't think we did enough planning. I don't think we considered the various downsides and risks."
Romney also deplored the polygamy his ancestors practiced in the 19th century.
"I must admit, I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy," he said
In fact, among the leading Republican candidates, Romney is the only one still married to his first wife.
Asked if he and Ann Romney violated the Mormon proscription against pre-marital sex, Romney told Wallace, "No, I'm sorry. We don't get into those things." But then Romney said, "The answer is no."
Indeed, Dr. Dane McBride, a friend of Mitt Romney who was a Mormon missionary with him in France, tells me that Romney confided to him before marrying Ann that they planned to consummate their marriage after the ceremony.
"He told me that's what they were going to do," McBride says. "And I assume they did."
The Romneys' abstinence before marriage puts into practice a theme sounded by Ann Romney.
"Ann wants to help young girls make the right choices, which includes waiting until marriage to have children," Fehrnstrom says. "Approximately one-third of all births in this country are to unmarried mothers; this number is close to 70 percent in some of our inner city neighborhoods. Reducing the rate of out-of-wedlock births in this country would be a special focus for Ann Romney as first lady."
On "60 Minutes," Romney demonstrated why he may outshine even Ronald Reagan as the great communicator. Anxious to find a flaw, some commentators like Wallace suggest that may mean he is too perfect.
Asked about that by Jay Leno, Romney said his family may differ with that description.
"I'm far from perfect. ... I can kick back. I can have a good time," Romney said. "But you're not going to hear about it. What goes on in Disneyland stays in Disneyland."
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of NewsMax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail.