Sitting and talking with JayG and others who have lived under a Romney administration tells me that he has a lot of work to come back from where he stood as governor of Massachusetts and as a candidate in years past. Here are my impressions of what he had to say yesterday:
- "Congress does not need more money to spend, it needs to spend only what it has."
- "We once built the Interstate Highway System and the Hoover Dam. Today we can't even build a pipeline."
- "The truth is, we're struggling because our government is too big!"
- "The answer to a weak economy is not more government, it is more freedom"
- "I will protect the second amendment rights of the American people"
- "He (President Obama) thinks our nation's highest court is to be revered and respected, as long as it remains faithful to the original intent of Barack Obama."
- "We'll stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again will we apologize for America abroad."
As you can see, not a lot of what he said that was memorable had a lot to do with the Second Amendment. Not that it wasn't a good speech, but it didn't lean hard on gun rights as a theme. It was a good stump speech about freedom in general, especially economic freedom, with a few pokes at President Obama thrown in for good measure.
- You have to give Mr. Romney credit for making a speech in front of a large crowd, that he has no control over, and that is, at best, lukewarm to him and his politics.
- Ann Romney, his wife, took a few minutes early in the speech to say a few words. I have to say, she's at least as good a speaker as he is. She at least connected the theme of her involvement in the campaign with the Battles of Lexington and Concord and did a decent job doing it.
- Romney made a good point that we are a nation of laws, not men. He invoked Truman when saying that the Constitution is more than a piece of paper, which is a nice rhetorical touch.
- He contrasted himself with Obama by asserting that he wants to limit government, while Obama has sought to expand its role.
- Romney says he plans to use the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as guiding documents if he is elected. It's nice to hear a candidate at least use those words so we can call him on it when he fails to do it after the election.
- Mr. Romney spoke a lot about economic freedom. He asserted that while some regulation of economic activity is necessary, the Obama administration and his allies in Congress have taken it too far. He brought up several examples of government interference in people's lives that have come up in the past few years, including the couple that had to take the EPA to the Supreme Court because the EPA told them they were building on wetlands.
- He spoke a bit about how the administration has interfered with the ability of Americans to do business in accordance with their own conscience. He specifically brought up how religious communities, such as the Catholic Church, are being forced to do things that are against the tenets of their faith.
- Mr. Romney didn't start speaking about the Second Amendment until about minute 18 of a 27 minute speech. That indicates to me that gun rights aren't in his list of priorities. The speech was a good general overview of Mr. Romney's views on freedom, but didn't specialize on the subject of gun rights.
- Mr. Romney got his first standing ovation when he called for Attorney General Holder to either resign or be fired.
- He pledged to enforce current gun laws, and to oppose any new ones. I would have been interested to know where he stood on reducing the number and complexity of existing laws.
- Mr. Romney took the opportunity to take shots at President Obama and his recent remarks about the Supreme Court. He stressed several times that judicial review was an essential part of our nation's make-up, which I will be curious to hear about if he is elected and runs afoul of the Supreme Court.
- He also brought up the probability that President Obama will probably be making a couple more nominations to the Supreme Court if he is re-elected. His assertions were that given that chance, we will be living with the consequences of the Obama administration for decades to come. I tend to agree with him. The only real legacy I see for modern presidents is how they approach choices for the courts, and I have found President Obama lacking in his choices so far.
- Mr. Romney ended his speech by relating how, as governor of Massachusetts, he went to Logan Airport in Boston to meet the remains of a service member who had died overseas, and how when he looked back at the terminal, he saw people from all backgrounds also giving respect. He used that to illustrate how he wished to be a uniter of the nation rather than a divider.
Like I said, it was a good speech, but didn't speak about the Second Amendment except as an example of a freedom among other freedoms. I think that speech might have been good at another pro-gun venue, but a speech more focused on gun rights might have played better here. The crowd wasn't exactly hostile, but they certainly weren't exuberant in their applause, and I didn't hear Mr. Romney have to stop to let the applause die down very often.
If Mr. Romney was looking to use this speech to bring pro-gun and pro-rights people firmly into his camp, I think he missed. However, if the speech was a way for him to re-introduce himself to that crowd so they could see where he is today, I think he succeeded. He didn't make the mistake of trying to be a staunch supporter of gun rights, because I think he knows he won't be able to pull that one off. He also didn't fall into the "I have a really nice shotgun, and I love going out and shooting pheasants with it" trap that got John Kerry lampooned in 2004. However, if he can keep beating on the pro-freedom drum, he might be able to allay the fear that he will be hostile or limp on gun rights.
But heaven help him if he is able to get pro-gun citizens to accept him enough to elect him, and he shoves us under the bus of political expediency.