Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney watches as his son Craig speaks Spanish to a crowd during a campaign stop Nov. 29, 2011, in Medley, Fla.
But when we look for a president, shouldn't we be looking for someone we can admire more than someone we can relate to?

This is a column on families and parenting, so this week, let's talk a little about a presidential candidate and his wife who have raised five outstanding sons and are among the best parents we know. These are our personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.

We have known Mitt and Ann Romney for a very long time, and some of their kids are friends with some of our children. As parents, the Romneys are as committed as they come, and this is only one of many "character qualities" that would make Mitt the kind of president this country needs.

We don't know Jon and Mary Kaye Huntsman nearly as well, but we do know Jon's extraordinary parents, Jon Sr. and Karen, and many of the same things could certainly be said about their family.

Are you as sick and tired as we are of the "anyone but Romney" sentiment? How many more times are we going to have to read, "Romney is a great candidate but just can't seem to connect to voters," or hear from the media things like, "His family is too perfect," or, "You just wonder if you can trust a guy like that"?

Enough already!

The fact is that we live in such a slipping, amoral world that people can't quite believe that someone is as good as Mitt really is. And they can't quite feel comfortable with a candidate who doesn't have a few more obvious flaws and vices. "Anybody who seems that perfect," the logic goes, "must be hiding something."

Here is the reasoning (or lack of it) that we hear so often: "Romney can't really have that good of a marriage and have raised that good a family, can he? Oh yes, he turned around failing companies and a failing Olympics and a failing Massachusetts, making him one of the few Americans in history to be world-class successful in the private sector, the public sector and the nonprofit sector. But can he be that successful in his family, too, and in his church and his personal life? Come on, no one is really that good, are they? So there must be something suspicious about him."

We recently recommended that Mitt and Ann invite a film crew into their family Christmas party later this month and give people a more intimate look at their great relationships with their outstanding sons and their families and give the public a little more of a private look at the more casual Mitt — funny, relaxed and a great singer, along with being a genuinely compassionate person who really cares about others. We're now second guessing that suggestion because it might make him look even better, even more perfect, even more exceptional.

Well darn it, he IS exceptional! And isn't that what we should be looking for in a president?

Everyone says they want change, want something new, want competency and want an outsider/manager rather than an insider/politico. But so many seem to think Romney is just a little bit too new, too different and maybe too good. Thus he makes lots of people a little uncomfortable, a little envious and a little suspicious.

It is a sad commentary on today's society that many have become so cynical and negative that it's easier for them to relate to and vote for someone whose weaknesses make him more like them. And they may find it easier to "trust" a candidate made "real" by his flaws than one who has lived an extraordinarily moral and successful life. In this mind-set, and in this comparison, Newt Gingrich's problems with marriage, fidelity and family, and his various conflicts of interest and notorious nastiness almost begin to work for him by making him more "relatable."

But when we look for a president, shouldn't we be looking for someone we can admire more than someone we can relate to?

And in an increasingly worldly society where the tone is sometimes a little mocking of faith and family, and even of character and excellence, isn't it time to elect a president who can change that tone?

When is the extreme right wing of the Republican party going to wake up to the fact that Mitt is the only candidate the party has with a real chance of defeating the incumbent president; and that in both the general election and in governing, his remarkable management experience and his sterling character will be his two greatest assets?

The problem, you see, is that there are three very different skill sets required for: 1. Getting nominated; 2. Getting elected; and 3. Governing as president. The skill set required for No. 1 seems to be rigid, uncompromising, far-right positions and a total distrust (or even hatred) of all moderates and liberals. The skill set required for No. 2 is the ability to reach out to the center of the political spectrum and to take positions that everyone can understand and appreciate even if they don't agree. The skill set required for No. 3 is to be able to attract the best and the brightest, to listen well, to analyze well, and to make and clearly explain strong, reasoned decisions that turn our country around and move it forward.

Mitt is best at skill set No. 3, second best at No. 2 and probably worst at skill set No. 1. If he gets over that first hurdle, he will be a remarkable general election candidate and, we believe, an extraordinarily successful president.

And, frankly, the whole flip-flopping rap on Romney is ridiculous. Do you know anyone who has not evolved and progressed in their positions and their views? If so, that is the person we should worry about — someone so rigid and cocky and un-listening that he is the same as he was decades ago. The great thing is that wherever Mitt has changed, it has been for the better — toward a more enlightened view. That's the kind of president I want, because the learning curve is pretty steep.

And one more thing: He has not changed, nor will he, his principles or his moral positions; what have evolved are his political positions. For example, he has always been opposed personally and morally to abortion, but he has changed his view about how involved government can and should be in the issue.

When I was interviewed recently by the Washington Post for a story they did on George Romney and his influence on his son Mitt, one question was who I thought was best equipped to be president between father and son. Would it be George, who was blunt and candid and trusted his gut; or Mitt, who is analytical, managerial and who finds and listens to the best people he can? Though I loved George, who was in many ways a mentor to me, I answered "Mitt."

Here's our hope over the next few weeks: That Mitt will stick with the three "Es" that make him the best nominee: 1. His electability; 2. His economic savvy which can turn this country around; and 3. His even-keel nature which will make him a great (and safe) president in perilous times. And here's our other hope: That Republican primary voters in each of the early, key states will focus on these three "Es" and on the character of the man — and get over this strange obsession to find a "not so good" alternative.

Then we can get on to a general election between two bright and family-oriented men who would respect each other and wage a stimulating campaign of ideas and priorities; giving voters a very clear choice between a philosophy revolving around debt and government solutions and one revolving around fiscal responsibility and private sector solutions.

We were at Mitt and Ann's home not long ago when some of their kids and grandkids were visiting. There came a point in the evening when Mitt went missing, and I went upstairs to look for him. As I walked down the hall I heard what sounded like a baby and an older child laughing. I followed the sound and opened a bedroom door to find Mitt baby-talking to a grandbaby and changing a messy diaper.

That, I thought, is the Mitt Romney I wish America knew.

The Eyres' three latest books are "The Entitlement Trap," "5 Spiritual Solutions" and "The Three Deceivers." Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda Eyre's blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Listen to their weekly radio show on Mondays at 4:30 at www.byuradio.org.