Payne: Beauty and the Beast

Posted by hpayne on August 28, 2012

“Beauty and the Beast” was showing on primetime Tuesday from the GOP’s Tampa convention.

There is no odder couple than Ann Romney and Governor Chris Christie. There was no greater contrast than the Michigan belle and the New Jersey brawler. Even their rhetoric appeared at odds with Ann saying that “I want to talk to you about love” and Christie announcing that “tonight we’re going to choose respect, not love.”

But despite their cinematic differences, Ann Romney and Christie were a clear one-two punch: Her job was to humanize Mitt Romney as the leader Americans can trust to take on our huge challenges, and Christie’s job was to assure America that Romney has the backbone to succeed. Ann’s job was easier than Christie’s. I have no doubt that America came away impressed with her poise and her husband’s bio as Mr. Fixit.

But I am not convinced America wants him to fix it.

“No one will work harder. No one will care more. No one can make this country a better place to live,” said Ann Romney in describing a husband with the determination to start a business and fix the Olympics. But Christie is a governor who has been fighting in the trenches – and it has not been pretty.

Christie, Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Snyder (the only one of the four not to speak tonight) have fought bloody battles in the last two years against the entrenched unions that own the Democratic Party and President Obama. Walker’s epic victory in a recall election has been the headline success story, and Christie tough love has brought him 60 percent approval ratings – but Kasich was dealt a setback by a Ohio public that sided with Big Labor, and Snyder faces critical tests at the ballot box this fall.

“Our ideas are right for America” said Christie, and he is indisputably right. But right doesn’t assure victory. Like Reagan after Carter, Romney will undoubtedly roll back Obama’s stifling regulatory state, most of Obamacare, and return confidence to business so the economy can grow again. But then will Mitt Romney have the mettle to fight the much harder federal spending battles? To take on the giant federal entitlements? To reduce spending in a federal government that – unlike the states – has no constitutional requirement for a balanced budget? Will he “tell us the truth” as Chris Christie promised? Ronald Reagan could not.

American loved Ann Romney tonight for her winning defense of one of America’s most successful businessman. But did Chris Christie win America’s respect in telling them the hard truths of what is must be done?

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