Two high-profile Republicans argued Wednesday that Mitt Romney's background in business might not directly apply to his work as a potential president.
The Republican presidential nominee often touts his time in the private sector as one of his top qualifications to be president. But conservative columnist Bill Kristol and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (a primary foe of Romney's) said that might not be enough to sustain Romney in the White House.
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Speaking at a Brookings Institution panel discussion, both men expressed doubt that treating government like a business – an idea on which Romney and other candidates have campaigned – might not be as effective as Romney thinks.
“I think his attitude will be efficiency – I’m going to come in and look at government like a business, which isn’t always the right answer because government isn’t a business,” Huntsman said.
Kristol added that Romney’s presidential resume is “thin,” given that he only governed for one term as Massachusetts and that his business experience “isn’t comparable.”
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He also said that, as campaigns focus more on rhetoric than substance, they’ve grown.
The Weekly Standard editor said there is a wider chasm between politicking and policy compared to previous presidential election cycles.
“If you have a conversation with Stuart Stevens, who’s running the Romney campaign, and then have a conversation with Mike Leavitt who’s running the Romney transition, it’s just two different worlds. Obama’s a little more complicated and I don’t have that many private conversations with his top people, but I honestly think it would not be that dissimilar,” Kristol said.
Regardless of who wins next month, Kristol said either Obama or Romney will have a short but important window to act on their legislative priorities -- including tax reform -- given the need for Congress to come together over a deal to head off the looming “fiscal cliff,” a combination of spending cuts and tax increases scheduled for the end of the year.
“I think 2013 becomes a big entitlement reform, tax reform, budget reform moment,” Kristol said, suggesting whoever wins would quickly apply his post-election political capital (of which Kristol insisted there would be some, regardless of how close the vote is) to work on a “huge legislative agenda.”