Will anyone vote FOR Romney? I'm an independent, but I just can't

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CLAREMONT, N.H.

As a registered independent voter in the swing state of New Hampshire, I have my doubts that anybody is going to vote for Mitt Romney next week.

Oh, he'll no doubt receive millions of votes, but I'm not sure any of those votes -- save for those of Ann and Tagg and other family members and close friends -- will actually be cast for the man himself.

Which is not to say he won't win the presidency.

He's a Republican, so he'll get votes from the party faithful who would vote for the nominee regardless, but that's hardly a vote for the man who struggled at times against a famously weak primary field.

He'll also get votes from the holy roller contingent who believe the Democratic Party is essentially godless and an instrument of Satan. That may be true, for all I know, but that's still not exactly a ringing Romney endorsement.

He may even get votes from independents who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but are profoundly disappointed with the president's failure to bring about the promised hope and change. They have to blame somebody. (I'm thinking the least-productive Congress in history might have at least a little something to do with that.)

And then you have The Haters -- the passionate Fox News watchers who so despise the president (for any and all and even no reasons whatsoever) that they would write in the aforementioned Satan if Mr. Obama were the only candidate on the ballot. That's all well and good, I suppose, but it's hardly a pro-Romney vote, either.

You put all of those groups together and -- through no fault of his own -- Mr. Romney may not lose next week's election.

But Mr. Romney probably won't get any votes from people who want to know the specifics of his economic plan, because he's pretty thin in that area. He says he's in favor of lowering tax rates, revamping the tax code and eliminating loopholes and deductions. Ah, but which loopholes and deductions? Well, he hasn't said, exactly, but it isn't because he hasn't been asked. Moreover, the fact that he refuses to say leads me to believe his investment-bank buddies on Wall Street would continue to make out like bandits while middle-class taxpayers would lose the mortgage-interest deduction. The tax reform math just doesn't seem to work if our mortgage interest is still deductible. President Obama called Mr. Romney's economic plan "sketchy," and, well, from where I sit, he's right.

I also have to say that, while few people caught it, Mr. Romney in the second debate mentioned that he wanted to lower the tax on interest and dividends "to help the middle class." The former Massachusetts governor may be surprised to hear this, but the taxes my middle-class friends and I pay on our interest and dividends wouldn't buy us a cup of coffee at the local Jiffy Mart.

But none of that matters because, if it means getting rid of President Obama, The Haters are perfectly willing to accept "sketchy." They're also willing to turn a blind eye to the skimpy release of Mr. Romney's tax returns, the offshore accounts, the discrepancies about his record at Bain Capital and his flip-flops on a wide range of issues, from abortion to his attempt to rewrite history on his auto-industry bailout position.

I, too, have been disappointed with the president, and never more than when he let Wall Street investment bankers off the hook in the wake of the financial meltdown. (The Dodd-Frank law was hardly a case of "getting tough on Wall Street," as the president has claimed. Among other things, those pernicious credit-default swaps remain unregulated.)

I've voted for lots of Republicans (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Steven Forbes, John McCain) and Democrats (Bill Bradley, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama) over the years, but I can't bring myself to vote for Mitt Romney just because he's not Barack Obama. And when I add up Mr. Romney's shortage of details on his economic plan, lack of tax returns and his inconsistency on issues, well, he just hasn't given me a reason to vote for him.

I guess I'll have lots of company in that regard, no matter how the election turns out.

opinion_commentary

Roger Carroll is a former editor and general manager of the Eagle Times in Claremont, N.H. (rogerdcarroll@comcast.net).


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