Aside from a handful of rich political donors, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks yet another Mitt Romney presidential bid is a good idea
Mitt Romney just will not go away.
That’s the general consensus among America Republicans this week, as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continued to send signals he is seriously flirting with another bid for the US presidency.
Aside from a handful of rich political donors, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks this is a good idea.
Just as Pauline Kael famously did not know any Nixon voters, I’ve yet to encounter someone anxious for Mr Romney’s return. Not even the guy who literally had the Romney 2016 logo tattooed on his face wants this.
In fairness, it should be noted that â€“ in this very column last summer â€“ I observed that “since his 2012 defeat, Mr Romney has been proved right about a variety of issues”.
This is true, but the last guy to pull off anything like such a comeback was Richard Nixon, who avenged his 1960 loss by winning in ’68. Prior to that, you have to go back to the 1800s.
The only compelling narrative for a Romney candidacy was contingent on his status as a reluctant candidate. He was supposed to be drafted in. These scenarios were premised on the notion that establishment favourites like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie might take a pass, opening the door for Mr Romney to be pressed into service for the good of the party.
Ironically, Mr Romney now makes it more likely a Tea Party candidate could win the nomination, since his candidacy would essentially divide up the establishment support that might otherwise have gone to Mr Bush or Mr Christie.
We were told Mr Romney could uniquely serve in this capacity, because he had the organisational ability to enter a campaign late in the game. “He could come on the scene around Labor Day [of 2015] because he’s able to flip his switch,” Scott Reed, a veteran strategist, told the Washington Post back in August.
Instead, his entire rationale is now kaput. Mr Romney looks like someone who has elbowed his way to the dinner table. In a way, this is a return to his image as the eager kid in the front of the class with his hand raised to answer every question.
“Look, I think Mitt Romney wanted to run all along,” declared panellist Stephen Hayes on Tuesday night’s edition of Fox News’ Special Report. “And this,” Hayes continued, “I think this is going to be the fundamental challenge of a Romney candidacy. His problem, going back years, has been flip-flopping or inauthenticity â€“ call it what you want. And I think he’s starting this race by pretending that he’s just now been called back into the race â€“ possibly called back into service â€“ when I think it’s pretty clear that this is something he was thinking about all along.”
So why is he doing this? Theories abound. Some say it’s because there’s bad blood between Mr Romney and Jeb Bush, who was starting to gain momentum prior to Mr Romney dipping his toes in the waters.
Politics is also addictive. Running for president, James Carville likes to say, “is like having sex: No one did it once and forgot about it”.
My friend and colleague Jamie Weinstein thinks Mr Romney is simply bored, and cites this unidentified Romney “insider’s” quote to Yahoo News as evidence.
“I last saw Mitt in December, and he was bored,” the insider reportedly said. “He was watching the world blow up around him and feeling somewhat vindicated on a number of ideas he had put out there and positions he had taken and kind of wondering, ‘Is this the next 20 years of my life, just sitting here?’ He’s a purpose-driven guy.”
Or maybe it’s about money and turf? I asked Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and a Romney rival for the 2012 Republican nomination, to help make sense of it.
“I can’t help but think there’s a little bit of follow the money here,” Mr Huntsman told me. Mr Romney was the last nominee, he explained, and therefore he controlled the money. And now all of a sudden, Mr Romney â€“ this is my version here â€“ is starting to see his donors checking out the hot new thing (as much as Jeb Bush can be the hot new thing), and he’s getting nervous, and thinking maybe he wants them back.
“And listen,” Mr Huntsman continued, “[money] in politics is equity. You know, what is your leverage as a politician â€“ or as a player â€“ in party politics? It’s what kind of money you bring to the table.”
“Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
There are some things you just can’t shake. Some things that won’t go away. There will always be wars and rumours of wars. The poor will always be with us. And so, too, it seems, will the rich â€“ and The Romneys.
Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor at The Daily Caller website in Washington, DC