If polls are to be believed, our next president will likely preside over a divided Congress. The latest RealClearPolitics model predicts Democrats will retain control of the Senate with Republicans gaining one seat overall. The House remains solidly in the hands of the GOP. If this happens, the next president will need the ability to close partisan divides.
Mitt Romney has shown he can do just that. On Sunday, the Des Moines Register, which has been endorsing Democrats since 1976, gave its nod to Mr. Romney this election. Iowa's biggest newspaper wrote, "Romney succeeded as governor in Massachusetts where he faced Democratic majorities in the legislature. If elected, he would have an opportunity to renew the effort."
Twenty-seven other editorial boards across the country flipped their support from President Obama to Mr. Romney, including the Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronicle, New York Observer and Chicago's Daily Herald.
President Obama has burned bridges by ramming through legislation like the stimulus and Obamacare without bothering to consult Republicans. That's not how Mr. Romney would operate. "I know there are good Democrats who love America just like we do," he told supporters in Celina, Ohio, Sunday. "I want to reach across the aisle to them, work together, put the interests of the people ahead of the politicians."
He noted that as a GOP governor of a deep blue state, he worked with a legislature that was 87 percent Democrat. He still managed to decrease spending and cut taxes 19 times. "We were able to balance our budget. The $3 billion budget gap in our first year became a $2 billion rainy day fund," Mr. Romney explained to cheering crowds. "We did that together, Republicans and Democrats. And we've got to do that in Washington."
The Obama campaign is trying its best to deny this bipartisan record. "The American people can't trust a word Mitt Romney says, especially when he claims he'd work across the aisle as president," said campaign spokesman Danny Kanner. "As governor, he refused to work with Democrats in the legislature."
Not so, according to the Bay State's former Democratic House majority leader. "The governor did work with the legislature," James Vallee told The Washington Times in an interview Monday. "There were issues of difference, but I had a very productive relationship with the Romney administration. They reached out to legislatures and did an effective job working with us."
Mr. Vallee, who left the legislature in June and is now a lawyer at Nixon, Peabody, believes Mr. Romney would be most effective with a bipartisan cabinet and team. "If he says he's going to reach across the aisle, I think he will," he said.
If control of the Senate does remain in Democratic hands and Mr. Romney wins the presidency, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won't be an easy negotiating partner. That said, Mr. Romney has a well-established history of finding areas of agreement with the other party. Voters should keep that in mind as they choose who is best capable of ending Washington gridlock.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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