Mitt the challenger - from flip-flopper to credible alternative

Starting as an underdog, Republican challenger Mitt Romney has emerged as a credible alternative to President Barack Obama despite his shifting views.

Washington: Starting as an underdog, Republican challenger Mitt Romney has emerged as a credible alternative to President Barack Obama despite his shifting views on issues galore, thanks to an image of a successful businessman who can get things done.
Critics say the former Massachusetts governor was for it before he was against it and then again for it on issues ranging from Obama`s signature health care law, modelled on his own state`s law, to immigration to abortion.

And it`s this flexibility that won him the Republican nomination in his second presidential run by sporting a conservative persona to win support from the party base and then turning `moderate` in a bid to win over the general voter as witnessed during the three presidential debates.

Born Willard Mitt Romney March 12, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, he is in a way trying to realise the dreams of his father George Romney, a former governor of Michigan, who in 1968 sought the Republican presidential nomination but lost to Richard Nixon.

Earning dual graduate degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, Romney spent 30 months in France as a missionary for his Mormon church in the late 1960s before founding the investment firm Bain Capital that Democrats have accused of shipping jobs to China and India.

Later running for the Massachusetts Senate in 1994, he was defeated by incumbent Ted Kennedy. Eight years down the line he left Bain Capital to helm a successful 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake.

Parlaying this success into politics, he won the Massachusetts governor`s mansion in 2003. Declining a second run after four years, an ambitious Romney eyeing the White House sought the Republican nomination in 2008, but lost to Senator John McCain.

Romney`s website carefully nurtures the image of a person who is not a career politician, but "one who has spent most of his life in the private sector, giving him intimate knowledge of how our economy works".

"America faces exceptional challenges. Mitt Romney is an exceptional man with unique qualifications to lead our country through perilous times, restoring our strength at home and abroad," it says touting his successes in his home state in eliminating a $3 billion deficit and adding tens of thousands of new jobs.

While distancing him from the unpopular former Republican president George Bush, his aides have suggested that the strategic partnership between India and the US has "retreated" under the Obama Administration as compared to the momentum built during the Bush-era,

Outlining the foreign policy plank of the Romney administration, the Republican Party platform or manifesto seeks a stronger relationship with India, while urging New Delhi to permit greater foreign investment and trade.

"We welcome a stronger relationship with the world`s largest democracy, India, both economic and cultural, as well as in terms of national security," it says urging "protection for adherents of all India`s religions" while praising the contributions of Indian-Americans.

Describing international trade as crucial for US economy, the platform says "a Republican president will complete negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open rapidly developing Asian markets to US products". But it makes no mention of India`s bugaboo-outsourcing.


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