Overseas bemusement and concern
The Republican nominating process is not only creating a stir in the United States but around the world. I have the opportunity to talk to clients and associates around the globe on a daily basis and their reaction are one of bemusement and concern.
It was generally assumed that Mitt Romney would be the nominee as he has received the lion's share of international coverage, as well as the fact that he has been on presidential nomination stage for nearly six years. Further he is considered one of the insiders in the investment and financial community in which nearly all of my contacts as well as my business operate. So the developments over the past two weeks have really startled quite a few people.
There is, among virtually all I talk to, a consensus that Obama must go as he is unreliable and cannot be trusted. The international opinion of him is by far the worst for an American president in my nearly 25 years dealing in the global marketplace. "The necessity for a viable American president in the mold of a Ronald Reagan has never been more critical as the world is spinning out of control without firm American leadership." That was said to me by an old friend in Melbourne, Australia.
Every conversation I have had over the past week has centered on the following questions: 1) is Mitt Romney a social democrat as is generally defined in Europe or a conservative in the tradition of the Tories in Great Britain or a conservative in the Ronald Reagan mold; and 2) can he beat Obama? My response: that same questions are being asked here, he has not been able to answer with any assurance and that is why he is having a difficult time with the majority of the Republican primary voters.
The fact that Romney appears to not be able to close the sale with all of his built-in advantages is a cause for concern. My associates overseas judge others harshly, and the bottom-line is getting the deal done. There has become, therefore, a noticeable apprehension in his ability, if he gets the nomination to 1) defeat Obama and 2) grab the reins of not only the U.S. government but assume the traditional role of global leadership only America can provide.
When the conversation turns to Newt Gingrich, I openly concede that I was among the first nationally to promote his candidacy last October. I did so because I thought the times called for his experience based on his actual accomplishments and not just words in a campaign season. What many here in the States consider as his baggage is quickly dismissed overseas as Americans, particularly rigid conservatives, are seen as being hyper-puritanical. Particularly when asked: 'did he defraud, steal, was convicted of a crime or was guilty of malfeasance while in office?' and the answer to all those questions is no.
The curiosity and acceptance of Gingrich as a potential president is growing rapidly among those I deal with, and many in the business community. He is someone the international finance community will accept regardless of the image portrayed by the American media and the Republican establishment.
My partner in our London office summed it up as follows: "These times call for strong, firm and principled American leadership. Tell the American people they are not only casting a vote for the future of their country but that of the world. Without a resurgent and determined America at the helm all hell will break loose in the next year or so; and everyone will suffer."