To make it extra dismal, the meeting was held immediately after he dropped out at CPAC, bested by a guy who’s having trouble beating Mike Huckabee.

From the ashes of failure, a phoenix of new failure is born!

Some 50 stalwarts of the political right privately met with Mitt Romney minutes after he dropped out of the Republican nominating race to discuss the former Massachusetts governor becoming the face of conservatism, as Ronald Reagan became en route to his 1980 election win…

“The purpose of the meeting was for him to announce his willingness to fight shoulder to shoulder with true conservatives from here on out,” said political strategist Paul Erickson, who worked for Mr. Romney”s campaign. “He did just that.”…

“If someone had suggested a year ago and a half ago that we would be welcoming Mitt Romney as a potential leader of the conservative movement, no one would have believed it,” Mr. Keene said to open the meeting. “But over the last year and a half, he has convinced us he is one of us and walks with us.”…

“The movement needs someone of Ronald Reagan’s stature and Romney could fill that role,” [Jay] Sekulow told The Washington Times yesterday.

Is our bench so thin for 2012 that conservatives have to coalesce now around someone who flamed out literally minutes before? We’ve got Sanford, Jindal, Pawlenty, and who knows who else looking at elected office in 2010 (Steele?). If science catches a few breaks, we may even have Zombie Gipper! Exit question: How about before naming Mitt the next Reagan, we let him prove first that he’s the next George H.W. Bush?