Not just any Wall Street big shot, either. It’s Charles Scaramucci, finance committee co-chair for Romney’s 2012 campaign. Even if he’s exaggerating where Mitt is right now on making a decision, this means at the very least that members of his inner circle think he’s persuadable under the right circumstances. The dream is alive.
“I don’t think he’s 100 percent made the decision,” Mr. Scaramucci said in an interview with Fox Business. “But a couple of factors could happen: If Governor Jeb Bush drops out or declares that he’s not going to run, I think that puts Governor Romney in… position.”…
“I can tell you right now. The governor has a very strong following, including myself. And he’d be my number one draft pick,” Mr. Scaramucci said…
“I think he’s going to do it,” Mr. Scaramucci said. “I don’t think there’s any reason for him not to do it. His family is behind him.”
Hugh Hewitt and Robert O’Brien, two more Romney devotees of long standing, are also pushing him once more into the breach. One weird thing about the Romney rumors dating back months now is that they always seem to turn on whether Jeb Bush runs — but no one else. Aren’t there other centrist Mitt friends and allies whose presence in the race would convince him to pass? To take the most obvious example, Romney’s not going to jump in if Paul Ryan decides to give it a shot, right? He and Christie aren’t as buddy-buddy as he and Ryan but it would be weird to think of Romney jumping in against Christie too, especially since Christie’s decision to stay out in 2012 helped clear the path for Romney to the nomination. That is to say, the top priority for Mittworld seems less to be getting Romney elected president on the third try than making sure people disfavored by Mittworld — namely, right-wingers like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — are blocked from the nomination. If no other centrist can or will answer the bell, then maybe Romney will. But if Christie’s willing to answer it and he’s competitive headed into the first primaries, why would Romneyites risk splitting centrists by pushing Mitt into the race too?
And by the same token, if Jeb Bush jumps in and polls weakly, raising alarms that Paul or Cruz might sideline the great centrist hope with early primary victories, would Romney feel obliged to jump in and bigfoot Jeb? That would be so odd. And, from a blog-content standpoint, so deliciously awesome.
Speaking of which, some more delicious blog awesomeness from Henry Olsen on 2016. There may be only one man who can stop the Ted Cruz express. Can you guess who it is?
Cruz’s chance rests on mobilizing tea-party grassroots conservatives behind his cause and quickly emerging as the sole conservative choice to take on a more moderate Republican. But polls have consistently shown that tea-party supporters have significant overlap with politically active Evangelical Christians. In most Senate primaries with tea-party challengers, Evangelicals and anti-government conservatives have tended to unite behind one person. Huckabee’s entrance into the race would give the Evangelicals a choice: Do they prefer an overtly religious man with less credibility on spending reduction or a conservative anti-spender who is also an Evangelical?
The primary track record since Pat Robertson’s 1988 campaign suggests many would prefer the more religiously themed man. Evangelicals have consistently given religious conservatives strong support even when they are Catholic (Pat Buchanan in 1996, Rick Santorum in 2012). Even in 2000, when Evangelical Texas governor George W. Bush had secured most mainstream religious conservative support, fringe religious conservatives Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes still received nearly a quarter of the vote in the pivotal Iowa caucus. It would be hard to imagine that Huckabee could not do as well as Bauer and Keyes, and if he did, there wouldn’t be enough hard-core conservatives left for Cruz to corral.
Huckabee could cannibalize Cruz’s conservative support in Iowa by cannibalizing his evangelical support, I guess. My hunch is that Cruzmania would hurt Huck more than Huck would hurt Cruzmania, but either way they’re going to split some votes. How ironic would it be if Huck, an old adversary of Romney’s, and Cruz, a new adversary of the interests Romney represents, both weakened each other to the point where Rand Paul was a surprise winner in Iowa — which would in turn panic establishmentarians so much that they might demand Romney jump in and save them? Double blog-content awesomeness.
And since we’re on the subject of 2016 today, keep an eye on Bobby Jindal, who told reporters that he is indeed thinking of running next year. He’s not going to beat Cruz, Paul, or Huckabee in Iowa and he’s not going to beat Paul, Christie, or Scott Walker in New Hampshire, but if things break just right and the winners of those two contests are both unpalatable to conservatives for different reasons (e.g., Huck and Paul), Jindal might be well positioned as the smart-and-solid alternative for the rest of the base to rally behind in South Carolina.