You didn’t think I was going to let this tasty morsel from Saturday go undevoured, did you?
Pay attention to the timeline.
Asked whether he and other Republican officials are coalescing around Romney as a 2016 favorite, [Wyoming Gov. Matt] Mead said: “There is a movement afoot. . . . I’d tell him, ‘Governor Romney, people here in Wyoming and around the country would encourage you to take another look at it.’ ”…
In June, Romney’s donor retreat in Park City, Utah, had the feel of a revival. Although Christie and Paul spoke at the elite confab, the buzz was about drafting Romney…
Still, the Chamber’s Reed said he expects Romney to assess the GOP field sometime in 2015 and give serious consideration to another candidacy.
“He could come on the scene around Labor Day [of 2015] because he’s able to flip his switch,” Reed said. He argued that Romney could activate his fundraising network and be in a “commanding position” faster than any other prospective candidate.
Coincidentally, he’s been spending time lately in Iowa and New Hampshire campaigning for Joni Ernst and Scott Brown, respectively. And one of his advisors makes a fair point: Romney’s in awfully high demand among Republican candidates this fall for a guy who got beat badly in the last presidential election. I think that’s mostly because the GOP lacks any big-name centrists right now; if you’re looking for someone whose name everyone knows and you’re wary of bringing someone too conservative to your state so soon before the general election, Romney’s basically the default choice. But if you’re looking for evidence that the stink of loser isn’t so thick around him as to make him unviable in 2016, there you go. There’s no denying, at least, that he’s still sufficiently well liked by voters — or is perceived that way by Republican candidates — to make him a net asset on the trail.
But back to the timeline. What should we make of that “Labor Day 2015” target date? It could just be one friend’s strategic hunch but I think it makes sense. For starters, it would shorten the primary campaign for him. One thing you learn from that Netflix documentary is how grueling and emotionally draining his 2008 campaign was for his family; Ann Romney started off opposed to another run in 2012 because the demands were so heavy. There’s no way they’re going to go through that again, it seems — but a late entry, with just 12-14 months from the time he jumps in to election day 2016 might be tolerable. Also, waiting until Labor Day or later would spare Romney the humiliation of jumping in early and then watching as some other centrist, like Jeb or Christie, jumps in later and gobbles up his support. It’d be one thing to lose to a conservative in an establishment/grassroots showdown for the nomination, another thing to watch your own base in the middle defect to someone else. If Jeb declares next spring and GOP centrists seem happy with him, Romney could quietly decline to run with no embarrassment. And if Jeb doesn’t run and Christie struggles early, waiting until late in the primary campaign to get in would give Romney some dramatic oomph as the centrist savior who’s going to save the establishment from Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. He’s the only RINO in the field potentially with enough name recognition to be competitive right away. If a poll comes out in September showing Paul leading in Iowa and Cruz hot on his heels, Boehnerites are going to have a panic attack and draft someone who can quickly turn the tide. Iowans already know Romney, he can raise boatloads of money in a pinch, and he’ll have endless favors owed him from all the pols he’s been campaigning for lately. He’s the obvious choice.
"The Jets will win the Super Bowl if they bring back Mark Sanchez." — Romney 2016 backer.
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) August 4, 2014