Mitt Romney failed even that test.
For months, he has attacked the incumbent. He would have us believe that he is more attuned to American values and prudent enough to understand the importance of limiting federal power. He speaks as if he holds the values of the founders in high esteem, extolling the Constitution and portraying himself as a principled champion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
What a joke.
Romney and Ryan are perfectly comfortable with all of the most sweeping attacks on Madisonian checks and balances that Presidents Bush and Obama have presided over. The Republican nominee hasn't just defended detaining people indefinitely without charges or trial. He's called for doubling the main facility where it is done! Romney avows that he is alarmed by an advisory board that would decide which treatments Medicare and Medicaid should cover; yet he is comfortable with the literal death panel Obama runs from the White House, where he and his minions add names (including American citizens denied due process) to a secret kill list.
Did Romney defend the Fifth Amendment? ("No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") No. Rather, he defends actions that plainly violate it.
During the war in Libya, waged in violation of Obama's own articulated understanding of the War Powers Resolution, Romney didn't point out that the Constitution gave Congress the power the declare war. And no surprise. Romney subsequently said that if elected, he wouldn't need to consult Congress before launching a war against Iran. Is that the position of someone who grasps the wisdom of the Constitution and champions an original understanding of it? In fact, it shows disregard for the plain text of the document, and ignorance of the reasoning for vesting war-making power in the legislature rather than a single man empowered like a bygone British king.
Other things Romney favors: a secretive federal agency that conducts warrantless spying on millions of innocent Americans; strapping terrorism suspects to boards and forcing water into their lungs right to the edge of drowning them; and constant invocations of the state secrets privilege to shield federal officials from being held accountable for past illegal acts they perpetrated. In short, Romney is a friend to neither liberty nor the rule of law nor a federal government limited by the Constitution. He should feel the ire of all limited government conservatives.
And his failures go beyond disregard for Madisonian principles, civil liberties, and the rule of law. He has no foreign-policy experience. He became a minor laughingstock during his campaign trip abroad, and failed to persuasively demonstrate depth of knowledge on foreign affairs in a debate. His position on Afghanistan is incoherent -- he vows he'll be out of the country by 2014, and simultaneously says it's reckless to announce a date by which we'll leave. Even in hindsight, he doesn't understand that George W. Bush's War in Iraq was a mistake, and has argued that the U.S. should've kept troops there longer. The team of neoconservative foreign policy advisers he has assembled made numerous costly errors of judgment during the Bush years. There is circumstantial though not conclusive evidence that a Romney Administration would be more likely than Obama to involve the U.S. in yet another imprudent war of choice. Plus Romney's VP pick is totally unqualified to step in as commander in chief.