Presidential scholars skeptical of Romney ‘Day One’ promises

Posted at 10:56 AM, May 26, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-26 08:53:04-04

By Jim Acosta, CNN National Political Correspondent

Washington (CNN) – If he wins the presidency, Mitt Romney will be a busy man as soon as he arrives at the White House.

In two of his latest ads, both titled “Day One,” Romney lays out an ambitious agenda for his first 24 hours in the Oval Office.

The second “Day One” spot vows a “President Romney” would begin cutting the deficit, “stand up to China” on trade and begin ending what the ad calls “job-killing” regulations on businesses. Add all of that to the promises Romney made in the first ad: approve the Keystone Pipeline, start the push for tax cuts and initiate the end of “Obamacare.”

“I really do think he’s using ‘Day One’ metaphorically,” said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution. A former senior staffer for former Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon and adviser to former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, Hess said more mundane tasks await a President Romney and his staff.

“You can probably be ready to sign a couple of executive orders,” Hess said, noting his “day one” experience in the new Nixon administration was fraught with clerical challenges.

“The problem was we didn’t know where there were any presidential pens to sign the documents,” Hess said. “When we found them, they leaked all over Pat Moynihan’s Irish silk handkerchief.”

“With Nixon, I think we were ready on day two,” Hess quipped.

Traditionally, presidents are busy with pomp and circumstance in the first couple of days in the White House. Don’t forget the inauguration, the parade and the balls. Add to that the cabinet members who have to be sworn in, that is, after they’ve been confirmed by the Senate.

In his first full day in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama did sign an executive order to freeze the pay of White House staff. Included in the order were new restrictions on the hiring of former lobbyists.

But Obama also had to work in a few minutes to retake the oath of office after it was bungled on inauguration day by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Days later, Obama signed an executive order to begin the closure of the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That move was later blocked by Congress.

Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, noted several of the items on Romney’s “Day One” agenda would require immediate consultations with Congress, an institution that thinks fast in terms of months, not hours or minutes.

“I can’t imagine that they actually believe that he could accomplish all of this within the first 24 hours in office. He could begin the process of doing this, but that’s all,” Sabato said.

Then there’s the matter of sleep. Sabato notes several members of Romney’s staff may still be recovering from “hangovers” from inaugural festivities. The Romney transition team, Sabato says, better start loading up on caffeine.

“I don’t think coffee would be enough. Probably a full carton of No-Doz,” Sabato joked.