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Oglesby: Lost local leader was a lifesaver; handicapping Romney’s chances

POSTED: May 8, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Hall County lost a good man and true business leader when Jim Smithson died. Jim developed business parks, was a very generous charitable giver, active in his church, served on numerous boards of directors and produced mobile homes across the county. It was the latter that drew me close to Jim.

I was struggling to compete with the Daily Times with my Gainesville Tribune. I had won a practice that would let The Times and The Tribune alternate years as the official organ for legal advertising. The legals were a large part of my advertising income. Official things like public hearings, proposed zoning changes, probate court, etc., had to be published in the official organ. Other things like corporate charters, state constitutional amendments, etc, could be advertised in any news publication published within the county.

Whenever Jim started a plant in a new state, he would incorporate it separately and advertise it the required four times in The Tribune regardless of whether we were the legal organ. Most were rather long, consuming as many as 2« columns and payment was by the word, not length. His using my Tribune beefed up my advertising considerably.

I don’t remember how many charters he advertised overall, but the number 19 or 29 seems to come to mind. In a way, Jim was a lifesaver for me as he was for untold many others. I’m grateful I got to know him through we weren’t in the same social groups.

The White House must be giddily planning on bringing out its finest china for the celebration. I hope to goodness I’m dead wrong and will work hard to prove myself wrong, but I have a growing fear Republicans will hand President Barack Obama another four years on a silver platter. It depends upon a lot of things.

Let’s explore the factors and my reasoning. Negatives first: The GOP race was an exercise in hunting an alternative to Romney. A number tried to qualify, particularly Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Independent negative advertising by Romney’s super PAC reversed the courses of one challenger after another until only Ron Paul, who never really was a factor, is left.

Obama is an expert at milking events that draw extensive news coverage and can and does travel on Air Force One at taxpayer expense.

Most Americans can’t identify with Romney’s wealth and the social circles he travels in. He seems stiff trying to appear just “a regular guy.” Most presidents are millionaires or multimillionaires, but not hundreds of millions. His wife has yet to connect with average women voters.

The positives: Romney survived. It’s possible the “we’ve got to accept him” crowd will join his enthusiastic supporters in a “we’ve got to get Obama out of office to save us and our economy and eliminate the government does it best attitude.”

The children among the tea partyers must abandon their “my way or the highway” attitude and accept that governing requires principled compromise. That’s got to be what happens for Romney to win.

Some are on record they won’t vote for Obama but stay home themselves. There must be huge nationwide “get out our vote” door-to-door campaign by volunteers.

Vice presidential selection could become the most crucial factor. Romney once was asked who his running mate would be and replied “Newt Gingrich,” walking across the debate stage to shake hands. Only Newt has federal governing experience.

However he may not be the best choice. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio would ensure that vital swing state and gain more Hispanic support. It could be the senator from Ohio, a state no Republican has ever won without carrying.

Many wanted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the not-Romney choice, but he declined to run. He said he’d at least listen if offered VP. This selection process is going to take some time.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times whose column, in its 54th year, appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint. You can contact him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503.


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