Romney 3.0

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 12 2015 @ 10:08am

Mitt Romney Holds Florida Primary Night Event

Romney is apparently considering yet another run at the White House:

“Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run,” the former candidate told the gathering in midtown Manhattan, according to Politico. But insiders who spoke to BuzzFeed News about Romney’s evolution on the 2016 question said he only began to entertain the possibility recently, and that he still needs to weigh a number of factors — including Jeb Bush’s electability — before he decides to take the plunge.

Enten tries to understand Mitt’s logic:

In March, I wrote that this was the most split Republican presidential field in the modern era (since 1976). And that still holds today. Jeb Bush’s 23 percent support in a recent CNN survey was the highest for any non-Romney candidate over the past year. Most polls show every candidate (besides Romney) south of 20 percent.

But he keeps in mind that “general election losers that have run for their party’s nomination again have a terrible record.” Ben Jacobs cracks open the history books:

The last [general election loser] to even mount a campaign was George McGovern, the Democratic nominee in 1972, who mounted a quixotic comeback attempt in 1984. In fact, with the exception of Richard Nixon’s win in 1968, the only time a former major party nominee has since been elected to the presidency since the Civil War was when former President Grover Cleveland won his 1892 rematch for the White House against Benjamin Harrison.

Rather than signing on with Jeb in the next weeks or months, many of those money men and women will wait to see what Romney does before doing anything. So, Romney is really buying himself — and, whether intentionally or not, the rest of the potential field — some time. He’s taking the Bush pot off of boil and turning it down to simmer.

Lisa Lerer and Annie Linskey note that, while “Bush and Romney have always been cordial, they’ve never been close”

Some Romney advisers are still grumbling about Bush’s role in the 2012 campaign. Despite calls, e-mails, and private meetings with Romney before the hard-fought Florida primary, Bush endorsed Romney in March—nearly two months after the state’s contest and when the nomination was already within the former governor’s grasp. A few months later, in the midst of the general election, Bush criticized Romney’s approach to the immigration issue, saying at a Bloomberg View event that he needed to “change the tone.” “He got off message,” said Bush of Romney’s campaign in an interview last month with a Miami television station. “He got sucked into other people’s agenda.”

In private conversations, Romney has questioned Bush’s ability to beat Clinton, arguing that voters would recall her husband’s administration in a far more positive light than that of former President George W. Bush. He’s also warned that Bush, who spent his post-office years working on a range of business ventures, could be open to the same type of private equity attacks that Democrats successfully leveraged against Romney in the 2012 race.

Zeke Miller and Alex Altman aren’t sure how seriously to take Romney:

One Republican consultant suggests that posturing over a possible campaign was a way to signal that he wouldn’t cede automatically donors or staff to Bush. … This is why veteran operatives of the Romney campaigns consider the revived rumors of a 2016 campaign overblown. They have long scoffed at the notion he’d run again. They believe their former boss would be an excellent president. They say Romney agrees. At the same time, they don’t expect a campaign to materialize.

Jennifer Rubin hears much the same:

In my informal survey of about a 15 GOP insiders, some with other candidates and some unaffiliated, I did not find a single person convinced Romney was actually running. One person gave the back of the hand to the idea Romney was poised to enter the race: “I don’t think he is [serious]. I think his advisers are and they aren’t letting him kill the rumors.” Another remarked, “I think people who think Romney can still be president are living in a fantasy world. Great guy. Would have been super president. Should have won, but it’s over.” A third said, “It’s unclear if it is intended to start a ‘draft’ movement or if he wants to try and hold the field or if he wants to be in the wings in case the field implodes.” A fourth told me, “He has little to no natural constituency in the party.”

Larison rolls his eyes:

Given that success is very unlikely, and since it can only harm Romney’s reputation to embark on a third losing effort, it raises the question: what could Romney and his backers be thinking? Maybe his former staffers and advisers just want to get paid, but why would Romney want to go through the process all over again? There is every chance that he would be thoroughly humiliated along the way. That might be amusing to watch at first, but it would mostly just be sad.

Outside of a small band of loyalists, I can’t imagine who in the GOP would want to go through another failed presidential campaign.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)