Mitt Romney is the man who can lead the nation out of its lingering economic doldrums and restore faith in the United States.
A successful executive in the public and private sector, Romney is a committed capitalist who understands that the nation's prosperity is driven by free enterprise, not government.
Under President Barack Obama's liberal and inconsistent leadership, the country has limped along, barely a step ahead of another recession.
The deficit soared, government expanded and the prospects of more regulations and taxes chilled corporate investment.
Just as we warned four years ago, this master orator has pushed "America toward a European-style social democracy."
We don't question Obama's motives. The president sincerely believes in the inviolable ability of the federal government to make all things right. But Americans should see that this top-down approach doesn't work.
Romney, in contrast, would capitalize on individuals' ingenuity, not Washington directives.
The contrast in their approaches is seen in the president's insistence on increasing tax rates for the rich so they will "pay their fair share."
But the wealthy already pay most of the country's tax bills. The richest 10 percent pay 71 percent of federal income taxes.
Any such tax increase would likely hurt small business owners, most of whom are hardly well off even if their incomes are higher than $200,000.
The president's plan would also increase the tax on capital gains for those with higher incomes, which could discourage investments and knock the wind out of a recovering stock market, and thus damage the savings of retirees.
Romney understands a reformed tax code, one that closes loopholes but lowers overall rates, would help businesses and consumers. A growing economy can generate more revenue, even with lower rates.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say the president trusts taxes, federal regulators and unions while Romney trusts the marketplace.
We acknowledge President Obama's successes, notably the killing of Osama bin Laden. Until the Libya debacle, the president seemed fairly reliable on foreign policy and cautious about costly overseas commitments. He supports free trade.
We even give him a bit of credit for the much-detested stimulus plan. When the president took office he faced a plummeting economy that many economists believed required an emergency boost that only the federal government could provide.
The stimulus included some worthy projects, such as the connector toll road between Interstate 4 and the Port of Tampa, and research indicates it did some good.
But the president did little to prevent Congress from padding the haphazard spending plan with pork. It is no wonder the spending failed to generate the predicted number of jobs.
The stimulus, however flawed, was nothing compared to what would follow. As Romney pointed out to devastating effect in the opening debate, with the economy still gasping and Americans desperate for work, Obama turned his attention to a monstrous health care plan full of hidden taxes and government commands.
The result outraged citizens, terrified business owners and caused an even harsher partisan divide in Washington.
The president then bypassed a chance to move to the middle and regain bipartisan support when he was presented with the Bowles-Simpson recommendations. After asking the panel to develop a workable deficit-reduction plan, he ignored its tough proposals, which included both budget cuts and tax increases.
Instead, he engaged in histrionic spending showdowns with an obdurate Congress. Now the nation faces a "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts. If compromise is not reached before the end-of-the-year deadline, the nation's military defense could be compromised and the economy could nosedive. So much for leadership.
Romney's record as a determined, detail-oriented leader who demands results strongly suggests he would find a workable middle ground in such conflicts.
When he took over the faltering organization charged with putting on the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he restored order and a sense of mission in a hurry. As governor of Massachusetts he worked effectively with Democrats.
You can trust him to fulfill his pledge to slash the overabundance of federal regulations. We expect he will tackle the growth of entitlement spending methodically, understanding caution is necessary when revising important programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
A few of Romney's stands trouble us. He can be bellicose on foreign affairs. His gushing enthusiasm for oil drilling and fossil fuels is a worry in Florida, where drilling off our Gulf of Mexico beaches would be a disaster.
But we are reassured by Romney's history as a deliberate leader of strong conservative values who will listen to others and carefully evaluate the facts.
President Obama may have good intentions, but he is simply taking the nation in the wrong direction.
Seasoned executive Romney would come to office ready to put the country on the course to more freedom and prosperity.
The Tampa Tribune, with confidence and enthusiasm, endorses Mitt Romney for president.