Patterico's Pontifications

9/6/2015

Trump and Romney: Good Because of Their Business Acumen, and Former Leftists on Many Issues

Filed under: — Patterico @ 2:07 pm

As my correspondent notes: “Trump is running as a successful businessman whose good deals far exceeded his bankruptcies.” But he has had problems with bankruptcies:

In last Thursday’s GOP presidential debate, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace pressed Trump on the four bankruptcies his various enterprises have gone through over the course of his career. “With that record,” Wallace asked, “why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?”

On the face of it, this is a fair question: Trump’s record of trying to actually make something new or run a complex operation — usually a casino, hotel, or resort of some sort — is hardly pristine. His biggest success has been as a salesman for his own personal brand, certainly in various television shows, and now as the ultimate performative, social-media-gestated presidential candidate.

But Trump’s response — that those were just four deals that went south out of hundreds that he’s done — is also fair, and we need not parse the competing merits here.

For his part, Romney ran as a successful businessman and investor:

And this time around, he really tried to pitch a very simple message that he’s Mr. Fix-It. And that worked this time around.

MARGARET WARNER: In terms of his sort of personality and his character, first of all, is he as competitive as he looks?

MICHAEL KRANISH: Well, he is.

. . . .

And Bain Capital, it’s a 15-year period that is very important to understand. And right now, we’re hearing on both sides of the campaign 30-second commercials. But in our book, we talk about 15 years and 100 deals. So, obviously, that tells you there’s a lot more there. It’s an interesting story that tells you really about the kind of person he is and what he would try to bring to the table.

MARGARET WARNER: So talk a little bit more about what kind of person he is. In other words, if you have been 15 years in that pressure cooker, the pressure to perform for yourself, your stockholders, pressure to cinch a deal, do you see those same qualities coming to him as a candidate, shaping him as a candidate?

MICHAEL KRANISH: Well, we haven’t had that many businesspeople who have become presidents and successful presidents, so it’s not clear that being in business is necessarily the best qualifier.

He also was governor, which is a more direct experience. But at Bain Capital, the way he worked was as a business consultant and also running a large investment fund. So you typically had to put in about a million dollars to be in this fund, and he would invest these hundreds of millions of dollars in various companies.

For his investors, and this is important — for the investors, he was very successful, nearly doubling their money every year. That’s different than going in and running a business. He himself has said that he didn’t go in and run the companies. That was left to management. He was running his investment fund and the fund was very successful in making very wealthy investors even wealthier.

But obviously (as with Trump) not every deal was a winner, and Romney was attacked over some of the failures:

It is a different story and a legitimate thing to talk about on the campaign for both sides about what happened in very specific deals where he went in, put debt on companies. Sometimes they succeeded. Sometimes they didn’t. And that’s a different story than the investment fund success.

As for their views, they have both flip-flopped quite a bit — although “flip-flop” is somehow not a word you hear applied to Trump that often. Still, there is no doubt that many of Trump’s views have evolved from liberal to conservative (that is, if you believe the conversion has actually taken place). See here and here for several examples ranging from abortion to health care.

Similarly, Romney’s policies “evolved” from liberal/Democratic to “severely conservative” on issues including abortion and health care:

MARGARET WARNER: So he’s shown an ability to evolve and to learn from past mistakes?

MICHAEL KRANISH: Well, evolve certainly is a fair word to use about Romney.

When he was running for the U.S. Senate in ’94, he ran basically as a liberal. He as opposed to the Contract With America that Newt Gingrich was pushing. He said he was better on gay rights than Ted Kennedy. He favored abortion rights. Then, when he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he called himself a moderate, and he pushed through a health care plan that a lot of Republicans have said they have problems with.

And now, in 2012, he’s called himself severely conservative. So we see many different places, many different things that he has drawn from ideologically that now shape who he is today. And perhaps if he is president, he might still pull from all of those things or depending on the Congress perhaps he would be as conservative as he has run in the primaries.

As I say, peas in a pod! No comments allowed on this page; you’ll have to return to the main post to comment.

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