Drill down to independents in that poll and you find Romney made an 11-point leap, with 45 percent of independent voters rating him favorably on Friday, after his speech, compared to 34 percent the day before.
When looking into Mitt Romney’s heart, it’s not too much to hope that the lessons from his father, George Romney, would inspire him to govern from the center.
As governor of Michigan, George Romney proudly carried the scarlet M (moderation that’s verboten in today’s far-right GOP). On the national stage he took on what was then the most extreme right of his party, Barry Goldwater, in 1964, and fought unapologetically for civil rights because it was the morally right thing to do.
Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, carried that M well. He had to work with a Democrat-led Legislature, and approached the job as an amicable businessman who wanted to create the conditions to improve the state economy. Thus, his signature “Romneycare” requiring everyone to have health insurance to spread the costs and lower the burden on middle class families. And so his state invested in education, too, demanding in exchange more accountability from public schools.
That Romney has been AWOL from this campaign, and may never return. But at the convention he opened the door to those independents who gave Obama the nod in 2008 and now feel frustrated, disappointed, abandoned. Romney offered them a “guilt free” nice-guy pass to head to the GOP:
“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. . . . How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America? Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and change had a powerful appeal. But tonight, I’d ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
My own political compass keeps swinging wildly, not quite settling anywhere for long. Romney’s family history —the struggles of his father, a self-made man who grew up in the Great Depression and, without earning a college degree, rose to CEO of American Motors — shines an uplifting light on what could be Mitt’s journey if only the Tin Man were to follow his father’s yellow-brick road built on strongly held convictions.