A reader takes issue with my portrait of Romney’s record:
I am aware of Romney’s record. I specifically mentioned the balanced budget and healthcare in my post, and I don’t think the latter is an argument in Romney’s favor. I’m not denying that Romney was a successful businessman at Bain Capital, but my post was in response to Hunter’s question specifically about Romney’s political resume, and as a one-term governor, I stand by my point that it’s thin. The only reason I didn’t mention other candidates is that I wanted to try to avoid having to do another post about Giuliani, but since you asked for it…
Giuliani served as the third-highest ranking official in the Reagan Justice Department before leaving to become a U.S Attorney in New York, and then he proceeded to take down the mob. When he was elected mayor in 1993, the electoral environment in New York City was much less hospitable to Republicans than it was in Massachusetts when Romney won in 2002. Romney followed a 12-year string of Republican governors. Giuliani was the first NYC mayor elected as a Republican since 1965, and that mayor–John Lindsay–later became a Democrat. So, you have to go back to the re-election of Fiorello La Guardia in 1941 to find another Republican who stayed a Republican. In the last pre-Giuliani election in 1985 (Rudy won and lost a close race in 1989), the Republican candidate finished third, garnering a whopping 9 percent of the vote. And unlike Romney, Giuliani was able to get a Republican successor elected. Michael Bloomberg may not be a rock solid Republican, but he sure beats Mark Green or Freddy Ferrer.
When Giuliani was sworn in as mayor in 1994, New York City was an absolute cesspool of crime, filth, and corruption–averaging about 2,000 murders a year, with one in seven people on welfare. At the very least it was in far worse condition than Massachusetts was when Romney took over in 2002. With a City Council in which Democrats outnumbered Republicans 46-5, Giuliani faced just as difficult of a legislative environment as Romney did. He also was under constant attack by entrenched special interests, as well as the likes of the NY Times, Al Sharpton and the ACLU. While his accomplishments as mayor can fill (and have filled) a volume, Deroy Murdock recently offered a nice summary:
Then there was Sept. 11. Some Romney supporters evidently feel that his rescuing of the 2002 Olympics was more impressive than Giuliani’s leadership on 9/11. I agree to disagree. But there’s no need to argue this point.
After leaving office, Giuliani has gained private sector experience by building a successful consulting, legal, and financial services firm. Romney’s achievements at Bain Capital are undeniable, but I don’t think most voters will hold it against Giuliani that he spent much of his adult live decimating the mafia and transforming New York City.
As I’ve said before, perhaps the Romney CEO candidacy would have more appeal if we were in the midst of a major economic crisis, but since we’re electing a wartime leader, I don’t think having built a tremendously successful investment firm is as relevant as Romney boosters seem to believe. Warren Buffett is the greatest investor in American history, but he ain’t Winston Churchill.