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The real Mitt Romney and why the American right can take heart

5 November 2012

12:56 PM

5 November 2012

12:56 PM

Iain Duncan Smith last night threw his weight behind Mitt Romney in a manner his colleagues have been reluctant to do. He told Pienaar’s Politics that he was unimpressed with the ‘appalling’ way the British media was covering the presidential race, saying:

‘I think the American election has been appallingly reported really over here in the UK, I think it’s misrepresented the whole nature of it. The reality is that either candidate has a real job to do. The idea – the demonisation of Mitt Romney over here has been appalling really. I’ve met many of his people, you know, they may have faults, all politicians have faults, this is a guy that actually ran a state very well, he got the debt and deficit down, he’s turned around businesses.

‘Whatever else you say about this man, he’s not stupid, and he’s made out to be stupid over here and he’s quite capable of running stuff… My problem with this is that they don’t explain the nature of the UK, of the USA, of the changes and shifts and the religious nature and the rest of it… it’s always rather sneery, the reporting, as though somehow they are a very unsophisticated bunch of people. Well I think it’s about time they packed that up.’

Our leading article this week made a similar point: that though the Republican party is derided outside the US for its ‘extremism’, there are reasons for supporters of the American right to take heart:

‘The Republican party is derided across the world for its ‘extremism’ and its association with the Tea Party movement. Yet the party’s convention in August was anything but a hate-fest: it was a celebration of good democratic ideas and inspiring speeches. As well as Ryan, the Republicans can boast several rising stars with genuine popular appeal — such as the Florida Senator Marco Rubio or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The Tea Party movement may be rough around the edges, but within it is an authentically American protest at the encroachment of big government on individual liberty. Whatever happens on Tuesday, the future of the American right looks bright.’

One figure in Romney’s campaign demonised as much as the presidential candidate himself is Paul Ryan. His recruitment as vice-presidential nominee was a good step, not just for Romney’s appeal to conservatives, but to independents, too, but he is often described as ‘extremist’ by the UK media. But as Ryan Bourne wrote for Coffee House recently, he has a strong message on America’s economic problems, proposing radical solutions to the unsustainable debt path that the country is currently moving along. His detailed profile of Paul Ryan is well worth a read.

David Cameron did break with Downing Street tradition and met Romney in the summer, although that visit didn’t go quite as smoothly as the Republicans might have hoped. He will still be on his tour of the Gulf states when the results come in on Wednesday morning, which means he can remain aloof from the usual race of which foreign leader gets a call from the White House first. But if Romney does win this week, the Prime Minister may find he has to reintroduce the new Republican president to Britons as someone he can work with, rather than an ‘extremist’.

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