A friend of mine has a theory that none of the current declared presidential candidates will actually secure the nomination. This means no Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley for the Democrats and none of the bajillion Republicans who are seeking the nomination. No Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul. It’s an interesting theory and one that might be shaping up to become true with all the recent rumors Mitt Romney is considering trying to “save” the GOP with a third presidential run. Gabriel Sherman at New York magazine wrote yesterday Romney is really bothered by Trump, and just not impressed with the other candidates.

“These guys like [[ Scott ]] Walker and [[ Rick ]] Perry, they were big deals in their states, but you get them onto the national stage and it’s a different story,” a former Romney adviser told me. “It’s like they were in middle school, and now they’re freshmen in high school and they’re getting their faces slammed in the toilets.” 

It isn’t just unnamed, anonymous former Romney folks who are openly pining for him to return. Top Romney donor David Van Slooten told Boston Herald there are other donors who are starting to show buyer’s remorse on candidates and gaze longingly towards the 2012 Republican nominee.

“Things are really playing out in a perfect fashion for him to come in and wrap this thing up…The party really needs someone like Mitt. I think there’s a real opportunity for him. … The people I’ve spoken to, many of them feel the same way I do, and the sentiment has been increasing. There are those that backed Jeb Bush who are regretting that decision. There are those that backed Scott Walker and others who are regretting that decision. If (Romney) indicated he’d make a run at it, I think many people would peel off and back a run “

Uh huh. AP has already written why Mitt 3.0 is a bad move, but that’s not going to cause any speculation to come to a screeching halt. Even if Romney were to hold a news conference today and say “Read my lips, no 2016 run,” his bundlers and some in the Establishment would just die for a chance to see if third time would be a charm. But others say no, Romney won’t try it again because he prefers being the elder statesman and an adviser to those seeking the White House.

“He’s like a counselor to these candidates,” says a veteran of Romney’s 2012 campaign, who noted that Kasich speaks with Romney as well. “No one has gone wire to wire, beginning to end two cycles in a row. He has a lot of knowledge to share.”

Romney may have a lot to share, but the question is whether candidates should do the exact opposite. He’s has already admitted the 47% comment hurt his chance in 2012 and the “I like to be able to fire people” comment wasn’t a good idea either. He also inarticulately explained “binders full of women,” which should have shown how he looks at women as equals to men in business, not just something on a checklist to be marked off. Those comments are just going to come back to haunt Romney if he decides to give it a go again.

What’s interesting is Bernie Quigley at New York Observer suggests Romney is too good for the Republican Party and the 2016 election.

He brings a somewhat different political ethic and conservative moral base to the Republican Party, in my opinion, a heightened, seasoned and more mature sensibility and Republicans should be delighted to have him…They will not get Mr. Romney now. Because Mr. Romney actually is “exceptional.”

Is Mitt 3.0 really a smart move? Not really. He did get more votes in 2012 than John McCain did in 2008, but is that enough to be “the one?” The last person to win a presidential election after losing one was Richard Nixon. But he did it in 1968, eight years after losing to JFK. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Grover Cleveland also lost presidential elections before winning four years later. But it’s just unlikely Romney is the one to ride in on a white horse to save the GOP. Some of Romney’s supporters have pointed out he was well-liked by both Tea Party and Establishment individuals. But being “likeable” doesn’t mean jack when it comes to winning an election, even if the presidency is just a popularity contest. There were times Romney really came off as untrustworthy to the conservatives and libertarians who wanted Obama out of office. His proclamation to NBC News that he was able to get everyone insured under Romneycare, plus his desire to “repeal and replace” Obamacare (instead of just getting rid of it) never set well with some of the electorate. The GOP Establishment would probably love to have Romney save them. But there’s a big difference between the Establishment and the rest of the party. The GOP is allegedly the party of freedom and liberty. Romney 3.0 would really just be more of the same ol’ same ol’. It’s time to look elsewhere and find someone who actually stands for the values the GOP claims to stand for.

The question, of course, is who?

Edit (Taylor): as pointed out in the comments it was eight years not four for Nixon.