Is it happening? Is it? Mitt Romney sure seems willing to accept the GOP nomination if it comes to it at the Republican National Convention.
First off, it’s completely ridiculous for Romney to do his best General William Sherman and say, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.” It’s been rumored for over a year Romney wanted to run in 2016, but decided to wait because he wanted to make sure the GOP was in better hands. It’s possible he’s now having second (or fifth?) thoughts about it because Donald Trump is still the frontrunner, even if Ted Cruz is just 82 delegates behind. This is probably why March 15th is so important for whoever the nominee is going to be because the primaries that day are “winner-take-all” instead of proportional.
The weird thing is Romney told Meet the Press he’s going to endorse a candidate on March 16th, and not before the March 15th primaries.
The strategy here may be to see how the 367 delegates up for grabs get split up, although you’d think Romney would make an endorsement before then to sway the vote. Maybe he really is waiting to see if Marco Rubio will see his delegate count jump before giving him the ring of approval, or maybe he wants to see if Ted Cruz is “the one” to take down Trump. If it turns out none of them are even close, then perhaps CNN is right and Romney’s “convention strategy” becomes the backup plan to stop Trump. John wrote a couple days ago how that strategy may backfire and he’s got a good point. Trump supporters probably aren’t going to flock to another candidate, unless Trump bestows his own golden T-shaped scepter to the winner. It’s also more than likely whoever ends up being second in this Thunderdome match isn’t going to have the rabid support of those who prefer third place.
But what if Romney knows something we don’t know? What if the GOP actually has a plan (and a good plan) to keep Trump from getting the nomination? What if Romney decides to say, “Hey, I’m in at the convention!” sometimes in May and starts actively pushing voters in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota to either write-in his name (which I’m not sure can happen, as no “write-in” category existed on the Texas ballot) or select the second person in the polls. Yes, he made the same comment during last week’s speech, but I’m talking showing up on the campaign trail for either Cruz, Rubio, or Kasich and go, “Pick these guys!” in hopes it works. Of course, Romney is denying this (which he should) but he got asked by Fox News whether there is an Establishment plot against Trump.
The key phrase is Romney’s claim he decided to do last week’s speech by himself and didn’t talk to anyone about it. A part of me doesn’t believe this for a second because of how quickly it was set up, but maybe it’s a case of, “Oh Romney’s speaking? Let go watch!” Considering his popularity in Utah, maybe that’s why people showed up on short notice. It’s always possible the Hinckley Institute of Politics Forum kept things quiet, but I’m shocked they were able to hand out tickets without someone leaking it. I’m pretty sure Romney discussed the situation with a few people on burner phones, so no one would know what was going on (or maybe he and Reince Priebus have a hotline or the “cone of silence” set up). Someone had to have known this speech was going to happen, right?
As for Romney’s hope for a brokered convention, it can still happen. James Garfield went to the 1880 Republican National Convention to campaign for John Sherman and ended up getting selected as the nominee (and winning the general election). So maybe Romney is Garfield 2.0 and will become the second Republican presidential candidate to win a brokered convention. Who knows, maybe he’ll ask Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be his VP pick to appeal to the Trump supporters. Hey…it could happen. Or…maybe Trump will listen to Ann Coulter and pick Romney to be his vice presidential nominee, instead of Chris Christie. THERE’S your Establishment bridge! Either way, Romney 2016 isn’t going to die until the convention is over and probably won’t really die off if Trump is the nominee because someone is going to run third party. Sure shows how 2016 is a year to remember (and we’re only into the third month).
One addendum: Vegas sure sees Romney’s chances of being the GOP nominee as a possibility. Fortune says it’s up four-fold from what it was in February. So maybe AP is right and it IS happening. If so, let chaos reign.