This ain't over yet, Romneys

I see that Jazz tried to slow my troll roll this morning with this post. Nuh uh. It’s not that easy.

I make the same pledge to the Hot Air faithful that I made on Twitter last night: Even if the Ebola apocalypse takes us all, I will troll you with Romney 2016 posts to the bitter, bitter end. Now, let’s take a second look at that LA Times story that has people thinking Ann Romney firmly and finally kiboshed a third Mitt run. Full quote:

“Done,” she said. “Completely. Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done,” she said, referring to her five sons. “Done. Done. Done.”

Asked whether there were any circumstances under which she would encourage the former Massachusetts governor to attempt another run — or if she would support him if he wanted to run — she said she hadn’t “been pushed to that point mentally,” but that they would make the decision together.

It was less than three weeks ago that she told Neil Cavuto “we will see” when he asked her about Mitt running again. Since then the rumbles that he’s thinking about getting in have only grown louder, starting with Byron York’s splashy piece on September 24th and on through Mitt’s interview with Mark Leibovich, in which the man himself declared, “We’ve got a lot of people looking at the race. We’ll see what happens.” Which means there are only two possible explanations for Ann’s “done done done” comment. One, she and Mitt have decided only very recently to pass on 2016, or two, she’s saying this just to turn down the spotlight a bit while everyone waits to see what Jeb Bush will do. It’s probably true that Jeb has the establishment’s right of first refusal on this race; the more Romney chatter there is, the more awkward his situation becomes. If only as a courtesy, the Romneys might be toning things down now while everyone waits to see what Bush does.

Or maybe not. Lookee what WaPo has this morning. Oh boy!

People in Romney’s vast political orbit who are waiting and wishing on him to launch another campaign said Romney has done little to quiet them and has been hazy about his plans following next month’s midterm elections…

Former aides and senior Republicans say Romney appreciates the GOP masses crowing that he was right about issues such as Russia and health care. But what really intrigues him, they said, are the vulnerabilities among top-tier candidates in the Republican field. If Romney moves toward a race, it would be because he sees a path to victory…

At Johnson’s home, Romney and media magnate Rupert Murdoch spoke about Romney’s political future. According to two Romney allies familiar with the conversation, Romney was cagey with Murdoch but expressed concerns about the developing GOP field. Romney told Murdoch that he felt uneasy about the party’s non-interventionist drift on foreign policy and the base’s embrace of ideological hard-liners.

Many Romney boosters believe that his window of opportunity will be in mid- to late 2015, should Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) or Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) ascend and party establishment types turn to Romney as a savior.

“There is a feeling that the country missed out on an exceptional president,” said Tim “ObamneyCare” Pawlenty, now firmly in Mitt’s corner. According to WaPo, Romney aides have been whispering about another run (if only informally) since 2013, but now that polls like this are coming out, the whisper’s turned into a barely perceptible murmur. A few more months of dithering by Jeb and more weak polling by Hillary, and who knows? The murmur might escalate to honest-to-goodness sotto voce buzz! One interesting wrinkle to the WaPo piece, though: While it mentions, as all Romney 2016 reports do, that Mitt will wait to see what Jeb Bush does, the words “Chris Christie” aren’t mentioned in the piece. A year ago, it was Christie who was the fallback option for establishmentarians if Jeb passed; in fact, I’m not so sure he was even the fallback option. Given how he rolled to victory in his reelection bid, he might have been their top choice. After Bridgegate he fell to second on the RINO depth chart, and now that Romney’s making noise about possibly letting himself be drafted for another run, he may have fallen to third. I wonder how that’ll work logistically, though, given that Romney won’t jump into the race until late while Christie will have to get in early and start campaigning. If Bush passes and Christie is competitive with Cruz and Paul next fall, if only because he’s the default option for centrist voters at that point, will Romney still get in?

Exit question via Politico’s Maggie Haberman: “Is there anyone encouraging Romney to run who doesn’t have something else they need from him? senate endorsement, business deal etc?” Don’t look at me — I’m only encouraging him for the easy trollblogging content.