Ennui or Interest?
There’s been a fair amount of whispers these days that the Republicans’ best chance for 2016 might be Mitt Romney. As Hot Air notes, the Washington Post brought that to light this weekend.
“Democrats don’t want to be associated with Barack Obama right now, but Republicans are dying to be associated with Mitt Romney,” said Spencer Zwick, a longtime Romney confidant who chaired his national finance council. He added: “Candidates, campaigns and donors in competitive races are calling saying, ‘Can we get Mitt here?’ They say, ‘We’ve looked at the polling, and Mitt Romney moves the needle for us.’ That’s somewhat unexpected for someone who lost the election.”
For a party without a consensus leader — nor a popular elder statesman like Democratic former president Bill Clinton — Romney is stepping forward in both red and blue states to fill that role for the GOP.
This isn’t exactly saying the same thing as saying he’s going to run, but I think the weary nation turns lonely eyes to him in some fashion. That’s fine at one level. Gov. Romney is a sharp man with solid ideas that play well will a large constituency, and that means a lot when considering him for a future presidency. He’s also a savvy businessman, who rarely makes the same mistakes twice, and a Romney campaign would develop a significantly better ground operation the second time around.
But with that said, I never got the impression — especially in the post-campaign retrospectives — that Gov. Romney was particularly interested in the actual presidency, other than, “Well, if nobody else wants it that bad…” sort of way. The press seemed to think that the base was not very enthusiastic about his candidacy, when it seems to me that it was more the other way around. He wasn’t excited enough to excite the base. Contrast that with John McCain four years before, who definitely wanted the presidency, but was not a favorite of the base.
I’m not a Republican, and I usually spend more time bemoaning the run-up to an election than I do watching it, but I’d expect that the next Republican candidate will have to be someone who obviously wants the position and can motivate a strong base to pull the reluctant partisans along for the ride. Unless he’s changed in the last two years, I’m not sure that Mitt Romney fills that. I guess we’ll see how he does winning hard votes in the midterms and what the base thinks.