Romney's private-sector expertise is unique

Next Tuesday, Marylanders will cast their votes in the Republican presidential primary. Considering the critical challenges facing our nation — unchecked out-of-control spending, runaway entitlement programs, staggering unemployment numbers, skyrocketing gas prices, extremist threats, and a fragile-at-best economy — this may be the most important election of our lifetime.

We all know that America has to do more than "hope" for "change," and that's why I am backing Mitt Romney. Not only is he the strongest candidate to challenge the Barack Obama machine, Mitt Romney is prepared and uniquely qualified to replace him as president of the United States. And he has pledged that on Day One of his administration, he will begin to undo the damage our nation has suffered since January 2009 under Barack Obama.

Unlike the other Republicans in the race, Mitt Romney is not a career politician. He has spent the vast majority of his career in the private sector, where he successfully turned around failing business ventures and launched new ones. Of special note, he achieved major private-sector successes on behalf of Staples, Domino's Pizza and Sports Authority — and in doing so generated and saved tens of thousands of jobs.

As a successful businessman and entrepreneur, Mitt Romney knows how private-sector jobs are created. He also knows firsthand the frustration of navigating through bad government policies that stand in the way of the American Dream. This experience will follow him to the White House, too.

As a former first lady married to Maryland's first Republican governor in more than three decades, and as a lifelong Marylander who has been around politics for many years, I recognize and appreciate the real thing when I see it. In a political arena filled with dime-a-dozen "politicians," it's rare to find a public servant like Mitt Romney. His resume of notable accomplishments in the private and public sectors has provided him experience and an invaluable understanding of the issues and daunting challenges America faces. And it's refreshing to hear a candidate who isn't afraid to answer a direct question with an actual answer — and one that outlines specific plans of action.

As governor and as a true fiscal conservative (who doesn't believe the federal government has all the answers), Mitt Romney put his private-sector experience to work for the people of Massachusetts. He eliminated an inherited $3 billion deficit without raising taxes, cut taxes 19 times, balanced the budget each year of his term, and left the state with a $2 billion rainy day fund. While standing firm against liberal extremism — and without compromising his conservative principles — Governor Romney reached across the aisle and successfully worked with the state legislature's Democratic majority for the common good.

At this critical time in our history — when our economy, our national security, the future of our children, and the very survival of our democracy hang in the balance — America deserves and America needs Mitt Romney.

Kendel Ehrlich is the former first lady of Maryland.

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