After three contests with three different winners, Florida’s GOP voters have the chance in Tuesday’s presidential primary to break the tie and turbocharge one candidate’s pursuit of the nomination.
The candidate who deserves that boost is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. His accomplishments in both the public and private sectors suggest he would be a steady and competent leader for these divisive and turbulent times.
Romney was a well-regarded Republican governor in a state dominated by Democrats. He took charge of the foundering effort to organize the 2002 Winter Olympics and made it work. And he ran hugely profitable consulting and private equity firms.
(...) The contrast in leadership experience and style between Romney and his closest rival for the nomination, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is striking.
Gingrich, who led Republicans to take control of the House in 1994 for the first time in decades, turned out to be far more capable in campaigning than running the chamber as speaker. Some of the toughest criticism has come from members of his own party.
Following his re-election in 1998, Gingrich resigned his seat rather than run for another term as speaker. Analysts said he didn't have the votes to keep the job. Since then, Gingrich has remained in Washington, cashing in as a "consultant" to clients like mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
Despite his decades as an insider, Gingrich has brilliantly articulated the rage many GOP voters feel against the political establishment. We admire his intellect, but when it comes to leadership, anger doesn't trump a diverse and successful record.
(...) Florida Republicans have two compelling reasons to vote for Mitt Romney: He's the best candidate, and he fits the late William F. Buckley's description as the most conservative candidate who can win.