Mitt Romney's Book Sets Stage for 2012 White House Run

Republican's policy-heavy tome offers stark contrast to Palin memoir.

March 1, 2010, 8:57 PM

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2010— -- The title of Mitt Romney's new book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," is a not-so-subtle jab at the visits President Obama made overseas when he first took office, derided by the Right as the "American Apology Tour."

Romney's book as a whole, however, may best be remembered not for the contrasts it offers with the incumbent president but for the contrasts it presents with "Going Rogue," the best-selling memoir of Sarah Palin, a potential Romney rival for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Where Palin's book is a mix of score settling and juicy anecdotes, Romney's book consists of a 64-point plan for strengthening the United States and countless references to what he has been reading. Palin's book titillated audiences with her take on her husband without his shirt on ("Dang, I thought. Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd?").

Romney's readers, by contrast, will have to make do with his take on the decline of the Ottoman Empire and other great powers (easy money and a lack of innovation did them in, in case you were wondering).

This is not to say that Romney's book is free of anecdotes.

In between his policy prescriptions and reflections on world history, the former Massachusetts governor shares his distaste for weeding, his displeasure with one of his son's teachers, and the discomfort of his presidential campaign aides when he would discuss the rate of out-of-wedlock births among African Americans.

The book's core, however, are his proposals on everything from national security to the economy, from health care to energy and from entitlements to education.

The policy prescriptions laid out in the book are too many to recount in full. But the broad strokes are a hard line on foreign policy coupled with a bit more ideological flexibility on the domestic front.

The overarching concept which animates Romney's book is the idea the United States must remain strong for the world to remain free.

Drawing on his years as a management consultant, Romney warns that the United States must remain the world's leading economic and military power or else global leadership will fall to the Chinese, the Russians, or the Jihadists -- each of which is described by Romney as pursuing an authoritarian vision for world domination.

Obama comes under extended criticism for seeing himself as "the world's great bridge builder and synthesizer." Rather than talk of the world's "common interests" as Obama is fond of doing, Romney thinks it is more useful to focus on the prevalence of evil and to stand by traditional allies.

"I submit that it is vital to believe in evil -- it is neither confused nor deterred by vacuous introspection," writes Romney.

On the domestic front, Romney articulates a conservative vision while managing to show a measure of independence from the Hard Right.

Although anti-tax activists typically oppose revenue raisers of any kind, even if they are intended as a replacement for other taxes, Romney's book flirts with the idea of a new tax on gas or carbon which would be paired with a reduction in the payroll tax. Romney's book does not actually embrace a "tax swap" but he nevertheless describes it as currently being the best game-changing strategy for achieving energy security.

When it comes to the Wall Street bailout which is loathed by many Tea Party activists, Romney defends Hank Paulson and credits President Bush's former Treasury Secretary with saving the US financial system. Romney then goes on to criticizes Tim Geithner, President Obama's Treasury secretary, for the way in which he has administered the Toxic Asset Relief Program.

Even though conservatives have long favored allowing workers to divert part of their Social Secuirty taxes to a personal account, Romney indicates that he would like to see personal accounts added onto the existing program rather than carved out of it. In particular, he proposes financing the add-on accounts with a 1 percent tax on wages. Workers would then have the ability to opt-out.

When it comes to health care reform, Romney curries favor with conservatives by pointing out that the universal health-care plan he championed in Massachusetts deviated from Obama's proposal in that it did not include a public option. At the same time, Romney defends the idea of states, like Massachusetts, requiring individuals to purchase coverage even though some conservatives view such a mandate as an assault on individual liberty.

The "Fair Tax," a proposal to replace all federal taxes with a 23 percent tax on consumption plus an annual prebate, is popular among some conservative activists. In 2008, the proposal helped power former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to his win over Romney in the Iowa Republican caucuses.

Romney explains in his book, however, that he opposes the Fair Tax because it might be evaded and he fears it would lead to a big reduction in taxes on the super rich like Bill Gates and higher taxes on the middle class.

Instead, Romney favors a series of more incremental tax changes including the elimination of personal taxes on dividends, interest, and capital gains for middle-income families.

Romney does not call for big non-defense spending programs in his book. He does, however, support increased spending on teacher salaries, R&D, and moving people from welfare to work.

On social issues, Romney is most passionate about reducing the number of out-of-wedlock births. The key, he believes, is not the availability of contraception. Instead, Romney believes young people must be taught about the consequences of their actions.

When it comes to abortion, Romney makes reference to there being a debate on the issue without ever acknowledging that his stance has shifted from supporting abortion rights when he was seeking office in liberal Massachusetts to opposing abortion rights when he was preparing to run for president in 2008. Instead, he simply writes that because there are two lives, not one, involved in an abortion, he is "unapologetically pro-life."

On the issue of same-sex marriage, Romney suggests that opposition to it stems not from an "antigay" worldview but from a belief that a mother and a father are "critical for the well-being of our children."

For all of the various proposals contained in the book, Romney does not directly discuss the possibility of running for president again in 2012. He also avoids making reference to Palin or any potential Republican rival.

Palin, however, has not avoided talking about Romney.

During a recent interview on Sarah Palin radio, the former Alaska governor rejected the suggestion from conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck that it was Romney's "turn" in 2012. "Well, I don't think it's anybody's turn ever," said Palin.

If history is any guide, however, Romney stands a decent chance of getting his party's nod. Although he was hurt last time by questions about his authenticity, Republicans have a long tradition of nominating second-time candidates: think Richard Nixon in 1968, Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996, and John McCain in 2008.

ABC News' Matt Loffman contributed to this report.