Oh yes: Some Romney donors still holding out hope he'll jump in and rescue the GOP

The more you hate Romney the more you should want him in the race, not just for strategic reasons, because it’ll split the center further, but for sheer comic value. If you think it’s funny watching Trump invent new insults daily to question Bush’s masculinity — we can’t be more than a week away from him calling Jeb “low T” — then you’ll have the time of your life watching him hassle Mitt as a choke artist whose piddling $300 million fortune would relegate him to carrying people’s clubs at Mar-a-Lago.

Literally nothing would better capture establishment tone-deafness to the mood of the electorate, which has pushed three non-politicians to the top of the GOP polls in Iowa, than recycling an aging failed nominee from an era of GOP politics that’s ending ignominiously. It’d be a bit like nominating Spiro Agnew to face Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Romney’s campaigns, of course, made plenty of strategic blunders. But the governor’s supporters say he is simply more skilled, in both business and politics, than any of the current GOP contenders and that subsequent events demonstrated the basic truth of much of what he said on the trail in 2012. Romney predicted, for example, that Vladimir Putin was an emerging threat and that radical Islam was on the ascent — claims that President Obama roundly mocked at the time…

It’s that steady hand that many say would bring some calm to the madness that overtook the race when Trump entered the field in June. “Mitt’s proven to be right on the critical issues and I kind of feel like Trump has turned this whole thing into a circus,” says Van Slooten.

DeVore even predicts that the Republican establishment will join his call for Romney to enter the race. “The Republican establishment, when they see this thing keep going the way it’s going, they’re going to go crazy,” he says. “They’re going to be knocking on the door and saying ‘Mitt, where are you? We need you.’ They’re going to have to drag him out.”…

Romney’s supporters insist the money will be there if he jumps in. “Nobody I know has opened a wallet,” says Hawkins. “There’s a lot of contribution money sitting on the sidelines right now. If Mitt even hinted that he was interested, there would be a flood of capital immediately.”

One Romney bundler puts the odds of him getting back in at 20 percent. I’d say closer to five percent, but even if you think that’s optimistic, rest assured that there’s still a chance. It’s a matter of how long the donor class is willing to sit tight with the underwhelming crop of favored candidates they have now while loose cannons like Trump and total outsiders like Carson float to the top of the polls. We’re still at least two months away, I’d guess, from anyone panicking; that’s a lot of time for Scott Walker to steady the ship or for Marco Rubio to break out or for Jeb Bush to reassert himself as the man to beat. In theory, the closer we get to voting, the more seriously voters will begin to take the race and the more likely it is that an establishment-friendly “serious” candidate will emerge from the pack of candidates already in the race. And yet … there’s a chance that one doesn’t. What happens if, around November 1st, Trump and Carson are way ahead in Iowa and Trump and Fiorina are suddenly fighting over New Hampshire? If you’re a Jeb Bush backer or a Scott Walker backer, what do you do then? One option is to go all-in on Carly, easily the most polished political neophyte candidate in the race; the GOP could do worse next year than having not only its first woman nominee but one who, unlike Hillary Clinton, hasn’t been corrupted from long years of holding federal office. Another option if Jeb’s still flailing would be to go all-in on Kasich, who seems like he’ll be a player in New Hampshire and would be a major draw in midwestern swing states.

Essentially, so long as we’re not left with a Trump/Carson/Cruz battle for supremacy, there’ll be someone for centrists and country-club Republicans to back in the current field. But there’s a chance, albeit a tiny one, that we will be left with that choice, in which case establishmentarians will panic. What will it look like when they do? Do they bring Mitt back on the assumption that he’s the only Republican who’s sufficiently well known to Iowa and New Hampshire voters, with enough of a donor network to keep him going through the race, to launch a successful campaign that late? Do they huddle and decide to gamble on Rubio as the guy best equipped to unite the center and center-right against the insurgents? There has to be some sort of “in case of emergency, break glass” plan developing in a race this wild. What is that plan? Who’s the white knight who saves the party at the eleventh hour, as Trumpageddon is descending?

It’s not this guy, is it? C’mon.