Mitt Romney: In Your Heart, You Know He's a Loser

Is the Republican presidential field for 2016 so bad that some GOPers have to trot out Mitt Romney as a "savior" to rescue the party and America from disaster? Never mind that the disaster is already upon us and the next president is going to have the thankless job of pulling America's -- and the world's -- Apple Brown Betty out of the fire. No doubt Romney has the competence to pull off a miracle. But can he beat Hillary Clinton? That should be the only question of concern as former Romney supporters and donors line up to pressure the 2012 nominee to go for the brass ring one more time.

The speculation about a potential Romney candidacy yo-yos between "maybe" and "not in a million years." That right there should tell us a lot about this campaign without a candidate. Romney staffers are convinced he's not going to run. Friends point to opposition from his family.

So why did Romney go on his old friend Hugh Hewitt's nationally syndicated radio show and say this about his potential 2016 candidacy: “you know, circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let my head go there”?

That's all it took. Hewitt, whose geniality sometimes masks a first class mind, and his law partner Robert C. O'Brien, who worked on the Romney campaign in 2012, penned an op-ed for Politico in which they describe the reaction:

Pressed again and again by friends and colleagues, Hewitt decided to try and succeeded on Tuesday, Aug. 26, when Governor Romney returned to the air for an interview. Those 20 minutes—and Romney’s enigmatic “you know, circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let my head go there”—sparked more reaction across more and varied platforms than any Hewitt has conducted in the 15 years his nationally syndicated radio show has been on the air. (Some of those reactions are catalogued here.) Among the insider veterans of the 2012 campaign, the enthusiasm for another Romney run went from 35 MPH to 80 MPH overnight, and O’Brien fielded numerous calls from the press, former Romney staffers and major contributors on what the interview meant.

By leaving the door open just a crack, Romney galvanized a lot of Republicans who don't think much of their choices in 2016. The complaints run the gamut: too conservative, too liberal, no experience, too isolationist, and … omigod … a libertarian. None of those will do, so why not recycle, rebrand, and regurgitate Mitt Romney? How bad can he be compared to the other candidates?

Truth be told, it's hard to see a worse choice. Mitt Romney is a plutocrat. He's a nice plutocrat, though -- a loving father and husband, kindhearted to a fault, and he loves dogs. If being a plutocrat is the worst thing you can say about him, he has it all over his likely opponent -- a conniving, rabidly ambitious harpie married to a power-grasping husband with ties to shady people all over the world. Both are so in love with money, we'd have to nail down every furnishing in the White House lest they sell the furniture in addition to access to the office.

To be fair to Hewitt and O'Brien, they lay out an honest case for Romney, summarized by Arit John, writing in The Wire:

  • Running a third time doesn't make him a loser — Ronald Reagan went through three GOP nomination cycles, "a fact that seems unknown to a younger generation of political pundits (as indeed, most of this history is)"
  • Netflix's Mitt documentary showed a different side of the former governor, "a caring father, an earnest patriot and a warm and funny person"
  • Romney has experience. The two reference Malcolm Gladwell's pseudoscientific 10,000 hours rule "and—whatever its scientific validity—Romney is a poster boy for it."
  • Hillary Clinton is probably afraid of him. "It is a good bet that Hillary fears a Romney three-peat more than she does the first-time national candidacy of any of the other potential GOP nominees."
  • He can handle the primary season better than other talented orators like Ted Cruz

All this may be true, but no one who has been pushing Romney to run has explained what would be different this time around. What abilities has he improved upon? What new talents can he exploit? Romney was rejected by the voters in 2012 and by Republicans in 2008. What reason can he and his supporters offer that would convince both Republicans and the voter at large that their evaluation of him was in error?