Team Romney's new mission: Stop Trump

Let me ask you this. Has Team Mitt ever actually “stopped” anyone? Who did they stop in 2012? I’ll grant that they stopped Gingrich after he won South Carolina. Mitt came back with a couple of strong debate performances and their air war in Florida against Newt was effective, as you’d expect of a much better funded campaign. Who else did they stop? Did they “stop” Santorum or was Santorum simply too underfunded and too much of a niche candidate to ever plausibly threaten Romney for the nomination? And even so, he came within less than one percentage point of shocking Mitt in Ohio. The other pretenders to the throne in 2012 — Perry, Cain, Bachmann, etc — all self-destructed without much help from the Romneyites. As much as I like the idea of some sort of political A-team reassembling behind the scenes to take down the supervillain Trump, these are the same people responsible for Project ORCA. They’re not the Expendables. They’re Paul Blart, mall cop.

Come to think of it, Team Mitt couldn’t even stop Trump in 2012 when he was a non-candidate. That’s how we ended up with that famous hostage-video Trump/Romney press conference: The Romney squad was afraid that if they snubbed Trump when he offered his endorsement, he’d spend the rest of the campaign sniping at Mitt from the sidelines and they’d have no way to answer him. Anyway, enjoy the simple irony of Trump-haters panicking about a crushing Republican presidential defeat next fall and deciding that the people to prevent that are … Romney alums:

“We are united,” said one former Romney aide now working for another campaign, which he said would not permit him to speak for attribution.

“It’s a common goal and not just for Romney people, but for anyone invested in Republicanism, conservatism, and anyone who gives a flying [expletive] about what we’re trying to do here. Even if you’re not getting paid, this isn’t good for anybody,” he said…

“This isn’t a reality show,” [Henry Barbour] added, referring to Trump’s successful run as a television star. “This is leader of the free world, and to be honest I think he’s more negative than positive, and I think people in a general election are looking for an optimistic, unifying candidate as opposed to a divisive, negative candidate.”…

“Not only would Donald Trump not win the White House next year, he’s also doing a great deal of harm to the Republican Party today with his very divisive rhetoric, particularly against the types of people Republicans are going to need to win next year, particularly female voters and Hispanics,” Walsh said.

Did I dream this or did Mitt Romney lose the Latino vote to Obama three years ago by 44 points, partly because he insisted on pushing “self-deportation” for illegals to polish his conservative cred in the primaries? The 27 percent of Hispanics that he earned against O is the same number that Trump earned against Hillary in a head-to-head poll taken a few weeks ago. For all his rhetoric about Mexican rapists and mass deportation, there’s no reason right now to believe that Donald Trump would do any worse with Latinos than Mitt Romney if the election were held today. Think about that for awhile.

This is the thing about Romneyites — they’re forever fighting the last war, which explains why there seems to be a new version of Romney every election cycle. 2008 was socially conservative culture warrior Mitt at a moment when the economy was about to tank; 2012 was technocratic economy-fixing financier Mitt, whose business success made him seem “out of touch” to middle-class voters. A 2016 reboot would undoubtedly be some attempt at an “outsider” Mitt, an idea that’s just about as plausible as an “outsider” Jeb Bush. (Less plausible, arguably, as Jeb Bush has never been his party’s nominee.) How many times are you going to follow people into battle who continually seem to be a step behind? As for the idea that Romney himself might be the man to stop Trump — “Romney’s the one candidate who, if he was on the stage with Donald, he would bulldoze him,” as one Mitt supporter told the Globe — does anyone believe that? Mitt would have all the same problems responding to Trump that Jeb Bush does, plus the added burden of Trump being factually correct when he reminds people that Romney is, literally, a “loser” when it comes to presidential campaigns. A simple question: If Romney’s staff, now scattered among various other Republican campaigns, was capable of taking Trump down, why haven’t they done so yet? If it’s true, as the donor class believes, that Trump is hurting the party with his daily communiques, then there’s no time to waste in destroying him. Hasn’t happened, though. Why?

Speaking of daily communiques, here’s an … interesting clip of Trump addressing a conference on the Ukraine war today. Somehow he got the idea that his remarks would be translated for the audience after each line. He was incorrect.