Romney’s best argument to win in 2012

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Lanny Davis
Former Special Counsel to President Clinton
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      Lanny Davis

      Lanny J. Davis counsels individuals, corporations and government contractors, and those under congressional scrutiny, on crisis management and legal issues by developing legal, media and legislative strategies that are designed to best produce a successful result for the client. He has experience in securities fraud and SEC investigations as well, and has found that utilizing such an integrated legal/media/lobbying approach can lead to quicker and less expensive settlements or even successfully litigated outcomes. Senior officials of public companies have also hired Lanny and his crisis group to defend themselves successfully against "short and distort" attacks and other market manipulations. For 25 years prior to 1996, before his tenure as special counsel to President Clinton, Lanny was a commercial, antitrust, government contracts and False Claims Act litigator (both in defense as well as plaintiff). He has argued numerous appellate cases in the U.S. courts of appeals.

      In June 2005, President Bush appointed Lanny to serve on the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 2005 Intelligence Reform Act. In that capacity, he received the highest level security clearances so that he could be fully briefed and "read in" to the various anti-terrorist surveillance and financial tracking programs at the highest classified level. From 1996 to 1998, Lanny served as special counsel to the president in the White House and was a spokesperson for the president and the White House on matters concerning campaign finance investigations and other legal issues. Lanny has participated in national, state and local politics for almost 30 years. He has served three terms (1980 to 1992) on the Democratic National Committee representing the state of Maryland, and during that period he served on the DNC Executive Committee and as chairman of the Eastern Region Caucus. In Montgomery County, Maryland, he served as chairman of the Washington Suburban Transit Commission.

      Lanny has authored several books and lectured throughout the United States and Europe on various political issues. Between 1990 and 1996, Lanny was a bimonthly commentator on Maryland politics for WAMU-88.5/FM, a Washington, D.C. local affiliate of National Public Radio. He has been a regular television commentator and has been a political and legal analyst for MSNBC, CNN, Fox Cable, CNBC and network TV news programs. He has published numerous op-ed/analysis pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, he Washington Post and other national publications.

      Lanny graduated from Yale Law School, where he won the prestigious Thurman Arnold Moot Court prize and served on the Yale Law Journal. A graduate of Yale University, Lanny served as chairman of the Yale Daily News.

      Lanny is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Connecticut and before the Supreme Court of the United States and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

(This is the first of two columns pre-GOP and Democratic conventions. This will present the best arguments Romney can make for Americans to elect him over President Obama. The next column will present President Obama’s best arguments. The writer supports President Obama’s re-election.)

During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney should present three arguments for why he should be elected over President Obama.

But first he should state that President Obama is a good man, a good father and husband and patriot who has tried hard to be a successful president. And he should give Obama credit for his bold and courageous leadership in bringing about the death of Osama bin Laden.

Then Romney should present three arguments based on facts that might persuade undecided and open-minded voters (probably about 15 percent of the likely voters watching) to pull the lever for him:

First, it is a fact that unemployment remains, as of July, at 8.3 percent — exactly the same as the percentage in February 2009, Obama’s first month as president. There can be no doubt, the answer to the most important question — “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” — is, in fact, no. Romney can argue that our political system should be based on accountability for performance, and that President Obama’s policies have failed with regard to the most important issue for all Americans in every poll — the economy.

Second, Romney can state the fact that under Obama, the national debt — which was $10.6 trillion on the day he took office — has increased by over $5.4 trillion, to north of $16 trillion, since Obama took office, with another $1 trillion in deficits proposed by the president in the next fiscal year. In other words, despite all the increases in federal spending, Obama has nothing to show for it in reduced unemployment but has left our children and grandchildren with an unsustainable pile of credit card bills. That, Romney can argue, is a moral and economic policy failure.

Finally, Romney can point to a political situation that is even more polarized today than it was four years ago. This is a fact. Romney does not need to blame Obama for it. To be fair, as he must, he can and must accept the Republican share of responsibility for not meeting Obama halfway to negotiate compromises on both issues — the economy and the national debt — that concern American most; and for not agreeing with Obama, mutually and faithfully, to avoid demonizing each other over reasonable differences on policy.

But again, accountability suggests that Obama, as president — the one person under our Constitution elected by all the American people — should be held most responsible for the increased political polarization in our nation today, especially in light of his promises to do the opposite, which was the most inspiring theme of his 2008 campaign.

Ultimately, Romney cannot succeed in parlaying these three arguments into a victory over Obama unless he sets out his own alternative vision and plan to create jobs, reduce the debt — including embracing the across-the-board approach of raising revenues, cutting spending and effecting entitlement reform of the president’s Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission. His vice presidential nominee opposed these recommendations. Now Romney can show his leadership of the ticket by endorsing them.