October 1, 2014

Anyone Up for a Romney Rerun in 2016?

Strange as it may seem, the nomination may be his to lose.

Most Republicans outside the Beltway would probably be surprised if Mitt Romney made a third run at the presidency in 2016, but inside the Beltway, those in the know believe another Romney run is a distinct possibility.

The former GOP presidential nominee gives no obvious sign of wanting to make another attempt, but his most earnest devotees think he doth protest too much. During an interview with radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, when asked why he’d decided against another run, Romney added one of those “well, maybe” comments at Hewitt’s prodding: “Circumstances can change.” Romney’s wife Ann, appearing on Fox News, told Neil Cavuto, “Well, we will see, won’t we, Neil.”

Romney has been acting like other testing-the-water types in the past. He appears on TV – but not too often. He campaigns for Senate candidates in several states, trying to help Republicans gain control of the Senate. And he hasn’t been shy about commenting on politics, especially foreign policy. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, he blasted Obama’s downsizing of the military as “ludicrous.”

He remains close to almost all the members of his defeated “Romney 2012” team, regularly discussing topics likely to be issues in the next election. “Virtually the entire advisory group that surrounded Mitt in 2012 are eager for him to run,” offers a source close to the Romney camp. And a number of Romney’s contributors are hedging their bets, waiting to see how the race shakes out before they decide to commit to other candidates. They believe he’s implicitly asking them to.

However, we suggest they closely read our 2012 “Grassroots Memo to Mitt,” if they want his “America’s Second Chance” ticket to be victorious this time around.

The key question for Romney seems to be whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush decides to run. Romney apparently believes that, besides himself, only Bush can defeat Hillary Clinton. (Let’s just say for the record that Bush v. Clinton II is not what this country needs.) But even should Bush decide to run, Romney’s supporters won’t quit easily.

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York writes, “Whatever happens, this group of Romney loyalists – a significant number of people with a significant amount of money to contribute – will not move ahead without his OK.”

Romney responded to York’s article, “We’ve got a lot of people looking at the race. We’ll see what happens.”

Taking a different tack on the question of Romney’s maybe-candidacy, JJ Feinauer of the Deseret News suggests five reasons why Romney will probably run.

First, many important establishment Republicans want him to run again. “Romney … is known to practically every Republican voter and already has relationships with most of the party’s leading donors,” Vox’s Andrew Prokop explained.

Among his most notable cheerleaders is former running-mate Paul Ryan. “I think he’d make a phenomenal president,” Ryan said. “He has the intellect, the honor, the character and the temperament to be a fantastic president.”

Second, Romney has name recognition, and that’s half the battle. Hillary Clinton reaps a huge benefit from her name, having been in national politics for more than two decades. Gallup Politics reports, “Hillary Clinton is currently the best known and best liked of 16 potential 2016 presidential candidates … due to her 91% familiarity score and +19 net favorable rating.” Her net favorable reflects her 55% favorable minus her 36% unfavorable ratings. Take heart. Joe Biden scored -2% net.

In a USA Today/Suffolk University poll of general election voters in Iowa, of potential Republican candidates, only Rick Perry scored double digits (10%). But when Romney was added, he not only scored 34%, he also took support from every other candidate – and won half of the previously undecided voters. Borrowing a bit of panache from the Leftmedia, apparently, Romney has that ephemeral quality known as “gravitas.”

Third, Americans like him more than they used to. A widely trumpeted June CNN poll shows that Americans are feeling “buyers’ remorse” for re-electing Barack Obama. Fifty-three percent of respondents would vote for Romney if the election were held today. That’s likely because Romney was right in most of his predictions.

Ben Domenech of The Federalist commented, “It’s hard to imagine better press for a candidate than ‘we wish we voted for you.’”

Fourth, foreign policy, Obama’s most glaring failure, could be the dominating issue of the next election. A great many Americans worry about a more dangerous world, and Obama is responsible for much of it.

Romney is far more knowledgeable about foreign policy than Obama, even given the latter’s near-six years in the White House. When Romney labeled Russia as America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe” during the 2012 election, he was largely ridiculed by the Left, but a July Pew poll indicates that most Americans now believe he was right. He was.

Finally, Republicans need a strong candidate. While the large Republican field features many strong personalities such as Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Rick Perry, to name just a few, none performs close to Romney in polls. And insiders doubt that Jeb Bush will consider running at a time when the party has shifted significantly to his right.

Two years remain before the presidential election, and the most unlikely things happen in politics. Take the case of a no-name, no-record, no-accomplishment junior senator’s sudden rise from obscurity to win the presidency. To be clear: The Patriot Post is not endorsing anyone, Romney included. But at the moment, the nomination may be Romney’s to lose.

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