"Very distraught" Romney to address donor network about the state of the race at annual conference tomorrow night

I’m overselling it a lot with that headline, but that’s what being the Internet’s premier “Romney 2016” trollblogger requires. When there’s Romney news, you oversell it. A lot.


He’s not getting into the race — I think — but Trump needs money and a lot of Mitt Romney’s Republican donor friends are sitting on a lotttttt of money.

What if Romney stands up there and asks them not to donate to Trump? What if he asks them to donate to Gary Johnson? Mitt can still do damage to Trump without running. And there’s a tiny chance, I suppose, that he really has reconsidered about a third-party effort, if not with him on the ticket than with someone else. (Ben Sasse will also speak at the conference, for what it’s worth.) The timing seems auspicious — Trump’s polling has slipped a bit lately, he’s taken relentless fire from GOP pols over the last week, the murmuring about a convention coup has gotten louder, and now that Hillary has clinched and David French has passed on running, the consensus seems to be that this is the last possible moment for a conservative challenge to get rolling. If Romney shrugs and tells attendees that the race is set and they should do whatever they think is right donation-wise, that’s it for any organized #NeverTrump effort. We’ll know in 24 hours or so.

Attendees caution that Romney’s annual summit — The Experts and Enthusiasts, or E2, retreat — is not an exclusive conclave for the #NeverTrump movement. Yet it is the closest thing to a safe space for conservatives who agree with that Trump is not a Republican in the mold of their 2012 Republican nominee, who remains revered by associates.

Romney, who has criticized Trump at every turn, will brief his allies in a highly-anticipated, even if brief, set of remarks Thursday evening…

That name [of a potential third-party candidate], his advisers say again and again, will not be him. But many are curious about just how far he will go to stop Trump in November: Will he instruct some of his fundraisers to stay far from him? Will he stump for Senate candidates who repudiate him? Will he warm toward an existing third-party candidate like Libertarian hopeful Gary Johnson?

“We’d be lying if we told you there wasn’t a lot of interest in what his plans might be,” said one person familiar with the event, who described Romney as “very distraught.” “We’re interested to see his disposition, his temperament.”


His entry into the race would all but guarantee that Trump won’t be president, but you can’t fault Mitt for wanting a better legacy for himself than “helped Hillary Clinton get elected” or “forced the great right-wing schism of 2016.” He deserves something grander, befitting his stature in the party, like “got crushed by Barack Obama” or “did nothing to stop President Trump except give a speech.”

I’m going to assume that if Romney had something big planned, even if it merely involved calling on donors not to help Trump, his former VP nominee would have gotten a heads-up about it, especially since Ryan’s also scheduled to attend the donor conference this weekend. Instead here’s what he was busy doing this afternoon:

House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated his support Wednesday for Donald Trump at a closed door meeting with House Republicans and asked his colleagues to unite behind the presumptive Republican nominee, according to several members who attended the session…

Ryan “just reaffirmed his disagreement with the comment, respecting that the people have elected Donald Trump as our Republican nominee and what we’re going to do is we’re going to use our position in a positive way to help America out,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.

Trump was surprisingly restrained today when asked what he thought about Ryan calling his comments about Judge Curiel a textbook case of racist rhetoric, telling Time magazine that he was “disappointed and surprised” but going no further. I think he and Ryan have reached an understanding and that it’ll take a lot more than the Curiel business to undermine it. Which leaves Romney in an awkward position: If he tries to undermine Trump going forward, he’ll be working at cross-purposes with Ryan, which is hard to imagine. I’d bet the odds are greater that he’ll symbolically throw in the towel tomorrow, reiterating that he won’t vote for Trump but leaving it at that, than that he’ll call for any type of organized effort to damage him. If he goes the latter route, he’ll spend the next five months having Ryan’s point, that the success of the House’s agenda depends on defeating Hillary Clinton, thrown in his face.


Exit question: Trump told Bloomberg News that his VP short list now consists of four or five names and that he’s “considering at least one ex-rival who has so far refused to endorse him, but who will ‘come over to my side,’ he predicted.” (His advisors are reportedly worried that he’ll announce his choice on Twitter before telling any of them, which … does seem like a reasonable fear.) Who’s he referring to there? Kasich? It’s … not Cruz, is it?

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Jazz Shaw 8:01 PM on October 02, 2023