Mitt Romney's right-hand man: I'd still like to see him run in 2016

Don’t dump on my dream, okay? I took enough abuse last night for being man enough to admit that a pizza with pigs in a blanket in place of the crust sounds kind of good, come to think of it. You know what else sounds good? A battle-royal primary where Marco Rubio is throwing chairs at Rand Paul and Scott Walker is smashing Ted Cruz’s head into the turnbuckle and suddenly, “Hey wait, that’s Mitt Romney’s music.”

I’m tired of being punished for my bravery in uttering difficult truths.

Let me paint you a picture. It’s September. Several primary debates have already happened. Jeb is still flat at 15 percent. Everyone likes Rubio but few people like him enough to make him their top choice. He’s at 15 percent too. Walker is hit or miss, sounding good on unions, pandering on immigration, and occasionally incoherent on foreign policy. He’s at 15 percent as well. Meanwhile, the Ron Paul rEVOLution is coming home to Rand Paul. And Ted Cruz has been predictably impressive onstage at the debates and on the stump in rallying social cons. They’re each also at 15 percent. Trump is in the race and has sucked away votes from more credible populists like Jindal and Perry. Fiorina is impressive, a protest-candidate outsider for people who don’t like the business-as-usual top-tier but who also think Trump is a joke.

Imagine you’re Mitt Romney, watching all of that, knowing that you could jump in tomorrow and immediately be at 20 percent in Iowa and New Hampshire. Remember, way back before Jeb Bush started hinting he might run, the rationale for a Romney 2016 candidacy was that he might be the only establishmentarian capable of keeping a right-winger like Cruz or Paul from winning the nomination. Rubio was impressive but inexperienced, and might not run. No one could say how Walker would play on the big stage once he had to take questions on national policy. Once Bush got in, the case for Romney 6.0 eased — but only if Jeb performed as well as the donor class hoped and expected. If he raised a bundle but fell flat with voters, the urgency to find someone, anyone, who could hold off the tea-party hordes would only grow. Well, that’s … pretty much the state of the race right now. Walker has sounded shaky at times. Bush is flat. The only X factor is Rubio, who’s charismatic enough on the stump and similar enough to Romney on policy that he might take off in the polls come fall and obviate the need for any Mitt-as-white-knight scenario. But what if he doesn’t? What then?