As the race for the Republican Presidential nomination begins to gain momentum, would-be candidates need to meet two key criteria. First, they need to have a policy platform to drag America away from the high-spending statist outlook that has characterised the Obama administration; second they need the profile and experience to take on Obama and win.

Many names that have been touted meet one of these requirements, a testament to the responsible and determined manner in which Republicans have managed on positions of authority. But only one candidate unites competence, conservatism and electability. That man is Mitt Romney.

Despite the high visibility of the Students for Daniels group on Yale’s campus, at the recent CPAC conference, Romney soundly defeated Daniels in the straw poll of potential nominees. His 19 percent lead at the conference, half of whose attendees were college students, showed his ability to gather support amongst conservatives of all ages.

Romney’s commitment to public service was clear even before he held elected office. While living as a private citizen, he was called to save the 2002 Winter Olympic Games from financial ruin, a testament to his leadership ability.

During his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, a traditionally liberal state, Romney showed that he wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions, imposing major spending cuts that turned the state’s $3 billion deficit as he entered office at the start of 2003 into a $700 million surplus by the end of 2004.

Unlike Barack Obama, who ascended rapidly from being a community organizer to holding the highest office in the nation, Mitt Romney has both the real-world background needed to understand business and the administrative experience that qualifies him to serve as President. Romney, in contrast to Obama, has proven time and again his ability to solve financial problems within both the private and public sector.

Neither unnecessarily divisive nor afraid to hold conservative views, Romney has articulated a clear and coherent vision for the nation over many years. As a signatory of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, his commitment to fiscal responsibility and living within our means is clear. Now, more than ever, it’s a commitment that America is crying out for.

Some have suggested that Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan, or his Mormon faith, are a barrier to his attainment of the Presidency. However, his view on health policy is straightforward: let each state choose the right solution to fit their needs. As for the second objection, surely the nation’s looming fiscal disaster renders moot any discussion of our President’s religious beliefs.

Whilst many of his rivals either articulate social policy designed only to please Glenn Beck listeners, or refuse to even engage with the issues at all, Mitt Romney offers a nuanced, moderate and rational perspective on to the issues that matter to millions of Americans. Throughout his political career, he has demonstrated an ability to address contentious issues with sensitivity and restraint, something that Barack Obama has lacked time and time again.

With Mitt Romney at the helm, we wouldn’t have seen our President nationally brand the Cambridge Police Department “stupid” for its arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. before he even knew the facts. We wouldn’t have seen the man we expect to represent America to the world launch into childish and damaging attacks on BP, a company that needed assistance, not condemnation, from an administration that was sadly more concerned with political posturing than clearing up the mess.

Let’s be realistic: America will face struggles in the coming years. As nations around the world are realizing, making up for decades of overspending and deficits is far from easy. It requires leadership. But asking Barack Obama to sort this problem out is like asking a turkey to vote for Christmas; indeed, his recent plans for “budget cuts” actually involve an increase in the deficit. Whilst Republicans are ready to come to grips with reality, Obama is wasting his time engaging in vacuous and costly posturing. We simply cannot go on like this.

This election will be about more than choosing who should lead America for a few years; the decisions the American people take in 2012 will define our future for decades to come. If we do not step back from the brink of ruin now, we will never have the chance again. We have a choice: four more years of listening to Barack Obama apologize for America and make excuse after excuse for failure after failure without ever accepting a morsel of responsibility; or a fresh start with a man who has a proven track record of balancing budgets and leading a state. America needs a Republican President. America needs Mitt Romney.

Alex Fisher is a freshman in Morse College and the national political director of Students for Mitt Romney.