Romney, a Shadow Veep?
It’s been hard this week not to consider that Mitt Romney, who knows something about finance and markets, might have been a handy running mate for John McCain.
In fact, McCain has been making good use of his former political foe. While Sarah Palin was turning heads of state, McCain met with Romney and an eclectic group of economic advisers from the private sector.
This morning, I called Romney (who's in Michigan today) to ask about his thoughts on the crisis.
First things first:
Romney does not want to serve in the Cabinet. “I watched my father in that job.” (George Romney was housing secretary under Nixon). “He had 27-year-olds in the White House telling him what to do, then faced bureaucrats who wouldn’t move. It was pretty frustrating. I think I can do more on the outside encouraging policies that make a difference.”
He also doesn’t wish to serve on any oversight entity created to administer the bailout. Strike that. The “stabilization.” He was insistent on not using “bailout” because “no one has any interest in bailing out fat cats who made bad decisions.” The purpose of the bill is to stabilize the financial sector so the economy doesn’t collapse. On administering the stabilization funds: “Please don’t nominate me. No one wants that job. If you succeed, they say, well, we gave you $700 billion, of course you succeeded. If you don’t succeed, well, you can’t win.”
Romney lamented that there isn’t more time -- a couple of months, preferably -- to hammer out a structure for the stabilization bill. But time, he said, is of the essence. Without money to lend to buyers, the economy stops.
He also made clear that although he does not forecast another Great Depression -- in contrast to Palin’s suggestion to Katie Couric yesterday -- we still face economic distress. The $700 billion, which is designed only to keep the credit system alive, is necessary but not sufficient. “Our tax policies, energy policies, education policies, investment strategies -- all are going to have to be tuned up.”
I don’t care how many times Romney changed his mind about embryos. Timing really is everything. If this week’s crisis had occurred in January, Romney might be leading the Republican presidential ticket. If it had happened in August, we might never have learned the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom.
They say it’s never too late to correct a mistake. And mavericks, well, you never know what they’ll do next.
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