In 2008, I endorsed Mitt Romney for president during the Republican primary because I believed that he had the right experience and temperament to be a great leader of the party and of the country.
In 2012, I am even more bullish on the former governor of Massachusetts. This time, I think my opinion will be shared by a majority of the American people in November.
It is not going to be easy. I have witnessed firsthand the ruthlessness of the president’s campaign team. This same team has had a stranglehold on Illinois politics for a generation, and it plays tough.
The challenge for Team Romney is to keep the focus on the biggest issue of the election, which of course is our ailing economy. The president’s team wants to talk about anything else other than economic growth because it knows it has such an anemic record. That is why it will try to keep the focus on topics like abortion and Romney’s tax returns. Romney will win as long as he doesn’t let the Obama campaign succeed in distracting the voters.
Here are five ways that Team Romney can win this November:
Beat the bass drum: When I was Speaker of the House, I always believed that the way to effectively communicate with the American people was to keep repeating a simple message that the voters can understand. By beating the bass drum, a campaign can help set the tone for the debate. For Romney, the message has to be about his plans to fix the economy. And he has to continue to beat that drum until we all get sick of hearing about it.
The Ryan and Romney Show: I put Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) on the House Budget Committee because I was impressed not only with his ability to get into the weeds of the federal budget but also because his ability to share of his vision of a more prosperous America. That is the reason that Romney picked Paul to be his running mate. The Romney campaign should use Ryan to enunciate that same vision of how to fix the economy, not only with a more responsible budget but also with reforms to our tax code that will bring stranded capital back to America from overseas, that will make it easier for small business to accrue capital, and that will ease the burden on our business sector so it can create more jobs.
The Chris Christy Model of Bipartisanship: The governor of New Jersey gave a great keynote speech at the Republican convention, showing how passionate leadership can excite the American people. Romney needs to talk about how he will govern in a bipartisan way, but that doesn’t mean appease liberals and progressives. Christy appeals to the Joe Six-packs of the world because he understands how to communicate complex policies in a way that appeals to the common man. Ryan is almost as good at this as Christie. The fact is that Romney needs to appeal to working-class people, the union worker, the white ethnic, the Reagan Democrat if he wants to win this election.
Don’t forget the Congress: Part of Romney’s message has to be the promise of more effective cooperation with the legislative branch. One of President Obama’s top failures has been his inability to work with the Congress to take care of the basic functions of government. The Senate, run by the Democrats, has failed to pass a budget throughout the majority of Obama’s term. That’s unacceptable. The fact is that Romney has a track record of working with the legislative branch.
He did it effectively when he was governor of Massachusetts. He will do it when he becomes president.
Opportunity vs. Obamavision: At heart, the election is a contest of big ideas. Will the American people choose a vision that promotes opportunity or one that promises on government-imposed equality? Will Ryan’s vision of an opportunity-based society carry the day, or will the Obama vision of cradle-to-casket government care prevail? I believe the American people prefer freedom to more government. This is a debate that Romney-Ryan can win because it goes to the heart of economic future. An opportunity society creates more jobs. Obamavision creates more government.
Hastert is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives.