ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (JTA) – On Jan. 20, 2007, I had the great pleasure of accompanying Gov. Mitt Romney on his most recent trip to Israel. Governor Romney met with key, senior Israeli economic, political and military officials in order to assess the unique challenges facing America’s closest ally in the region.
The time I spent with Mitt in Israel allowed me to see firsthand his pragmatic approach to problem solving coupled with his tireless motivation. I found the combination refreshing and inspiring. His respect for differing points of view and ways of life is compassion at its best. Now, more than ever, I think we need this kind of leadership for America.
With a leadership style developed over decades in the private sector, Governor Romney has been successful throughout his career. To succeed in the business world, companies must change, challenge assumptions and innovate constantly. As the CEO of Bain Capital, Romney invested in more than 150 companies like Domino’s Pizza, Staples and Sports Authority, and helped develop business plans to run these enterprises successfully.
Two decades later, Bain Capital is among the nation’s five largest private equity firms.
At the peak of his business career, Mitt was asked to take over the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. At that time, the Olympics were beset by scandal and had fallen deeply into debt. Mitt took over and, as he had done with so many companies, he went to work turning things around.
The result was one of the most successful and profitable Olympics in history, even in the face of security concerns following 9/11.
Following the Olympics, Mitt brought needed leadership to Massachusetts. I have long been impressed by what he accomplished during his term as governor – strengthening education, laying the foundation for private, market-based health insurance for all, and cutting the size and cost of government. Without raising taxes or increasing debt, Governor Romney closed a nearly $3 billion deficit. Each year he filed a balanced budget without raising taxes.
By eliminating waste, streamlining government and enacting comprehensive economic reforms to stimulate growth in Massachusetts, Governor Romney got the economy moving again and transformed deficits into surpluses.
As president, Mitt will govern by emphasizing his core principles: faith in free enterprise and free trade, accountability in education, personal responsibility, tolerance, strong families and a strong national defense. Our country faces what could be a defining moment in shaping its history, and I believe Mitt Romney can provide the kind of leadership that is sorely needed.
Americans are losing faith in Washington and the ability of our elected officials to tackle the new generation of challenges facing the American people. America needs a proven leader and executive like Mitt Romney, not another lifetime politician who has never run a corner store, let alone the largest enterprise in the world.
I am confident that millions of Americans will conclude, as I have, that America and its allies deserve nothing less than Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States.
(Mel Sembler, the national finance co-chair of Romney for President, is the former U.S. ambassador to Italy and former honorary chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.)