- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Even though he said he won’t even think about a 2012 presidential run until after the midterm elections in November, Mitt Romney is raising his profile in a big way - releasing a book, setting out on a 19-state promotional tour and hitting four popular TV shows in a single day.

The former Massachusetts governor, who dropped out of the 2008 race for the Republican nomination, has kept up his onslaught of criticism against President Obama, and on Tuesday said that he’d give the president an “F” for his first-year performance.

“Overall, I’m not going to give him a passing grade for the year,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show. “What this administration has done is added so much debt that it’s frightened the financial markets; it’s made it more difficult for small businesses to grow.

“The private sector is scared in America right now. It’s the most anti-job, anti-growth, anti-investment agenda we’ve seen in Washington in decades,” he said.

In a show of how seriously Democrats take Mr. Romney, the “rapid-response” unit of the Democratic National Committee fired off an e-mail just hours after his NBC appearance, titled “Mitt Romney Launches Book Tour, Rewrites History.”

“If Mitt Romney wants to be seen as the serious policy wonk he’s working to portray himself as, he might want to brush up on his understanding of entitlements,” the DNC said.

The multimillionaire this week kicks off a book tour to promote “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.” The book sets out 64 policy ideas, with chapters on reforming entitlement programs, health care and education.

The book opens with Mr. Romney criticizing what he regards as the complacency of the Clinton years and then laments the massive deficits being run up by Mr. Obama. The Republican also criticizes Mr. Obama’s record of apologizing to “so many foreign audiences … for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined.”

“We don’t need to apologize for what America is. We have brought extraordinary economic wealth to people around the world, lifted people out of poverty, we’ve brought freedom to people around the world. But this country is under extraordinary stress right now. The challenges we face really could cause us to be passed by other nations. And Washington politicians have not dealt with the real challenges we face,” he said on NBC.

A majority of Republican insiders predict that Mr. Romney will become the party’s 2012 nominee, according to a National Journal poll in January. That puts him ahead of others who also appear to be jockeying for a run; namely, former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also dropped out in 2008.

Despite his criticisms of the president, Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama has done several things well, “most of those places where he changed his view from what he had during the campaign. For instance, he’s left our troops in Iraq, and they’re being more successful there. He boosted our effort in Afghanistan, which is the right course to take. He did not close Guantanamo, thank heavens.”

He warned the president that he should not try to pass his trillion-dollar health care reform plan without bipartisan support.

“The immediate reaction will be outrage on the part of the American people. They have said every way they know how: They do not like his health care plan,” Mr. Romney said.

His morning appearance kicked off a media blitz Tuesday with a series of appearances morning, noon and night across the TV dial. He appears on ABC’s “The View” and Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” before wrapping up the day on CBS’ “The Late Show With David Letterman.”

The upcoming book tour takes Mr. Romney to 19 states and the District of Columbia.

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