From the right: Hysteria for the Republican Party
Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 01:02
There is no clear favorite for the Republican nomination in 2016. Historically, there is always a candidate who is seen as the likely nominee, but three years out that appears not to be the case, making it all the more likely for a dark horse candidate to emerge, or one emerging whom no one would have ever considered at all.
A few weeks ago Chris Christie stood at the zenith of political greatness. The New Jersey governor was not only seen as America’s governor, but also the GOP golden boy. He led in the early primary polls, was running even with Hillary Clinton, and coming off a crushing re-election victory, poised more than ever to rebrand the GOP for the better in 2016.
Then Bridge-gate happened, and while Christie appears to be weathering the scandal, it is to say that his presidential dreams are in limbo. Christie’s derailment for Democrats is a call for utter joy and further the coronation of Hillary for president in 2016. Yet, for Republicans, Christie’s fall is now another in a long line of GOP rising stars to bite the dust.
Taking Christie out of the running leaves the GOP in disarray. If not Christie, then who? Scott Walker? Maybe, but could he unite the party? Marco Rubio? Too untried, plus he’s up for re-election in 2016. Rand Paul? Too libertarian. Ted Cruz? No. Jeb Bush? Good, but his last name is baggage.
The scattering to find a candidate three years out is daunting, but perhaps Republicans are looking too hard for Mr. Right. Perhaps the candidate is not one of the usual suspects, but instead someone already tested, already tried: 2012 nominee Mitt Romney.
Now, I’m sure the mention of Romney raises more than a few eyebrows. Romney ran for president and lost to Barack Obama. To many in the party, the thought of Romney being the nominee for a second time would be preposterous and dastardly. However, consider the following. Despite his loss, Romney has remained in the public eye and arguably is more of a household name now than in 2012. A new documentary showcases a softer, more human side of the candidate. He is a constant fixture on late night shows, including a recent episode with Jimmy Fallon where he slow-jammed the news. He’s on all the Sunday talk shows, his wife Ann published a best-selling family cookbook, and Romney continues to raise money for the GOP, something he does with great finesse.
Yet above all else, a recent Purple Strategies poll for the GOP nomination in New Hampshire shows that Romney is anything but old news. Romney leads the poll with 25 percent and his closest competitor, Rand Paul is at 18 percent. Romney crushes other potential rivals Christie and Bush, showcasing that maybe Republicans are still not over Mitt.
Consider the scenario. The GOP field remains bitterly divided over the next year with no clear frontrunner for the nomination. Romney, seeing a path to the nomination, mounts a campaign for president on a platform of “I told you so” or a more polite version of “I knew this would happen.”
In a nation that will arguably still be mired in economic hardship and political gridlock, Romney can position himself as the man who can turn around the economy and unite the country. There is nothing to hide with Romney. No scandals to pop up. No positions to recant. We know him, pure and simple. If the people of the Granite State already believe Mitt Romney to be the frontrunner, then imagine what would happen if he did decide to run.
If anything, the documentary “Mitt” shows a side of Romney not seen by a vast majority of the public. Romney comes across not as the scripted robot the Democrats claimed him to be, but a decent, well-rounded person and a true family man. Seeing that side of Mitt Romney, why not hop aboard the Romney 2016 train?
To those who say Mitt Romney is not going to run I respond with three points. First, in politics the word “no” is never an absolute. Second, age is hardly an issue, as Romney would be the same age as Ronald Reagan when he won the presidency in 1980. Third, historical precedent is actually on Romney’s side. Richard Nixon lost the election of 1960, but came back eight years later and won the nomination and election. Reagan ran three times before finally winning the nomination and thus the election.
For Romney, the third time may be the charm.