The PJ Tatler

From Ghoulies, Ghosties, Long-Legged Beasties, and Romney Presidential Campaigns, Good Lord Deliver Us

The title of this post is a slightly altered Scottish prayer, employed by frazzled parents no doubt, seeking to scare their children into good behavior.

This one is to be employed by Republicans with more than two brain cells working who fear another Romney presidential campaign.

Mitt Romney as Republican elder statesman, I don’t mind. The silver hair, square jaw, dignified bearing — perfectly cast as an old, wise man of the GOP. But Mitt Romney running for president a third time? The gag reflex is immediately activated and I frantically look around for a handy paper bag.

No way. There’s just no way, right?

Mitt Romney’s ideas summit here was intended to be a passing of the torch to the Republican Party’s would-be saviors, with five potential 2016 presidential candidates jetting in to schmooze with many of the GOP’s biggest donors and present their agendas for the country’s future.

Instead, the scene at a luxury resort in the Rocky Mountains quickly became a Romney revival. Minutes after the 2012 Republican presidential nominee welcomed his 300 guests, Joe Scarborough, the MSNBC host and former GOP congressman, urged them to begin a “Draft Romney” movement in 2016.

“This is the only person that can fill the stage,” Scarborough said at the opening-night private dinner, according to attendees.

The Republican elite rose early Friday morning to go skeet shooting with possible 2016 hopeful Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.). Then, over breakfast, they questioned Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), another potential candidate, about how he thinks he could defeat the expected Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yet in hallway chats and over cocktails, they’ve been abuzz about recruiting someone else — Romney — into his third presidential race.

“Everybody realizes we’re devoid of leadership in D.C.,” said Harold Hamm, a billionaire energy investor who was one of Romney’s biggest fundraisers in 2012. “Everybody would encourage him to consider it again.”

Former Utah governor Michael Leavitt, a Romney confidant, told reporters, “I’d be for it, but it’s not my decision.” And George P. Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, said of Romney in his talk here, “I wish we could call him Mr. President.”

Don’t get me wrong. Mitt Romney is a very nice fellow. If I were to go into business, he’d be my first choice as partner. Honest, trustworthy, plus he knows how to make money.

But voters have spoken twice about their feelings toward Romney and frankly, it’s not flattering. Republican voters preferred John McCain to him while America preferred Barack Obama. I leave it to the reader’s perspicacity to describe the comparative weaknesses of both those candidates, which doesn’t reflect well on Mr. Romney’s electability, or even likability, as a GOP standard bearer.

So why the piqued interest among Republican whales?

The heightened interest in Romney among the business leaders, donors and policy wonks gathering in Park City this weekend speaks volumes about their anxiety at the disarray in the Republican Party. There is no clear 2016 front-runner, and there is deep doubt about the two leading establishment favorites.

Donors here said they fear New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is permanently damaged by the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal. And while many would back former Florida governor Jeb Bush, they believe he will not run.

Enter Romney, who stoked the speculation Friday by delivering a sweeping, campaign-style speech condemning President Obama’s foreign policy and serving up biting critiques of Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

“The Obama-Biden-Hillary Clinton foreign policy is a monumental bust,” Romney said.

Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer said: “He would be a giant in a field of midgets.” Schweitzer is not exactly a neutral observer, as he has been mentioned in some Democratic circles as a possible presidential candidate himself. And if I were him, I’d build Romney up too — all the easier to chop him down to size if he runs.

Rich people may be smart about money, but they sure are stupid about politics. Rehashing a Romney run? Retreading another Bush? These are guys who are pushing immigration reform, too. Maybe they should ask Eric Cantor for some political advice on that score.

There are plenty of Republicans out there who are considering running for president who would be acceptable to the majority of Americans. Most of them are not household names, but what does that matter? Barack Obama was a nobody before the media made him into someone who could actually challenge Hillary Clinton. I think it an advantage that there is a GOP candidate out there that the American people have not heard of. These days, a Republican frontrunner has a great big bullseye on his back that the media vies with each other to throw darts at, trying to bring him down. In this case, the fresher the better.

Please don’t run, Mitt. You’re far too easy to demonize and you’re much too nice a man and far too gallant to get into a street fight with Hillary Clinton. Let someone else get in there — someone who knows how to use a stiletto and is tough enough to take a blow while delivering two.

And to the GOP whales looking for giants among midgets: Grow up and get real. If you want to dabble in something, try the futures market. If you don’t realize that 90% of Republican candidates all reflect 90% of your views on issues, then you have no place in politics.