Mitt Romney hopes the third time’s the charm

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Former Governor Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida.

Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Former Governor Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida.

Former Governor Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida.

Former Governor Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida.

Slate magazine said yesterday that it was “no surprise” when two-time presidential contender Mitt Romney told major donors on Friday that he is once again running for the nation’s highest office.

Color me stupid, but I for one was surprised. I did not see this coming.

Since his loss in 2012, Romney has declared again and again that he is not going to run for president. As recently as October, he told Bloomberg, “I’m not running, I’m not planning on running and I’ve got nothing new on that story.” A year ago he was actually into the double digits in his adamant refusals: “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no,” he told the New York Times.

In some of these interviews, Romney seemed annoyed that people kept asking him the same question after his repeated denials. “I’ve actually answered that one a lot of times,” he complained in August.

And I, idiotically, took him at his word.

Maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. Most of us who write about Mormonism were exhausted at the end of the so-called “Mormon Moment” in 2012, and we’ve no real desire to experience all of that again. (On the other hand, it’s possible that if Mitt does run in 2016, there would be no corresponding “Mormon moment.” Maybe America will have progressed beyond the candidate’s religious beliefs. In 2012, after all, the anti-Mormon rhetoric was better than in 2008.)

There are a couple of different theories about why the flip-flopper has now flip-flopped on this most important of questions. One is the whiff of opportunity. Last July, a CNN poll found that Romney was beating Obama in a hypothetical match-up, 53% to 44%. Granted, that same poll found that he’d be trounced by probable Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a general election, with Clinton winning 55% and Romney just 42%. But still, it seemed the bloom was back on the Romney rose.

Another possibility is that he’s not actually running. Work with me here. Here’s what Slate hypothesizes might be going on:

Romney thinks Bush can win a general election, but he’s much more skeptical about the primary and worries that Bush could lose, elevating a candidate who might fail in a fight against Hillary Clinton or Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But instead of criticizing Bush and bringing these questions into the open, he is making a more subtle move. By announcing interest in the Republican nomination, Romney is freezing his donors in place and blocking a rush to the Bush camp. In essence, he’s asking the moneymen of the GOP to wait and see before they join the Bush bandwagon.

Is Romney really running, or is he just making Jeb Bush really, really work for the nomination?

It’s not clear.

One thing is evident, however, and it’s that I should start taking whatever Romney says with a very large grain of salt.





  • Larry

    The really good news I got from the article was an offhand remark concerning the possible DNC opponent. The fact that Elizabeth Warren is mentioned as a possible candidate. Warren has far less of the imperious or corporation-friendly attitude that typifies Hillary. Hillary has name recognition but that works in both directions.

  • Nobody Important

    A few points:
    1. Seeing how Romney is both a Republican and a politician, I highly doubt Jana trusted him prior to the recent statements.
    2. It’s generally a good idea to take anything any politician says with a grain of salt.
    3. As of now, the statements are all second-hand.

  • Wayne Dequer

    Alas, I always prefer folks who say what they mean and mean what they say. However, I generally recognize that circumstances can change so I give most folk the benefit of the doubt when they change their minds.

    I liked Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and would probably have voted for him if he had run for President in 2012. However, for me the 2012 version of Mitt Romney had too many negatives. I don’t have any trouble with those who saw the election differently.

    For me, Hillary Clinton also has a lot of negatives. As a life-long Democrat, I currently look at Elizabeth Warren more favorably so far.

    However, since I am not ultra-rich, all I will probably do is vote as I always do. It is still quite a ways to November 2016.

  • DougH

    Jana, you seem to be confusing a promise with a statement of intent. I believe that when Romney said over and over that he had no intention of running again he meant it, and I doubt whether he’s made up his mind now. As Wayne commented a situation can change, and intentions with along with it.

    But yes, I agree that there wouldn’t likely be as much anti-Mormon rhetoric this time as last.

  • Evan M

    I know this is old news and he’s pulled out, but I think the vindication he’s gotten in his assessment of the world had an energizing effect that made it awfully tempting to run again. Obama made fun of him for calling Russia our biggest geopolitical foe, apparently uninformed about the differences between a geopolitical foe and an enemy. Russia has since invaded Ukraine. Obama attacked Romney for calling the complete troop pullout from Iraq “tragic”. With the worst sociopathic monsters imaginable taking over the region and the chatter about having to send the troops back in, “tragic” is probably an understatement. Couple all that with the overwhelming evidence that has come to light of what a cheap fraud Obama is (“if you like your plan, you can keep your plan”, “the average family will save $2500 a year”, etc.), the criminality (IRS scandal and cover up), and the general incompetence (red lines,, Bergdahl, etc.), it stands to reason that people will maybe realize that Romney guy was the right choice after all.

    Personally, I think there are better choices than Romney in 2016, but Romney would certainly be a better choice than Clinton or Warren.