Is Mitt Romney a GOP asset or distraction?

“McCain went back to the Senate and had a voice and a platform,” says another Romney associate, via email. “For Dole, after decades in office, it made sense to make money and take a lower profile. For Romney β€” or anyone else who isn’t in office or hasn’t spent their career in office β€”it’s perfectly natural he’d want to continue to speak out on issues that concern him.”

Besides, the associate says, Romney is still popular with Republicans, has put in so much time working on GOP causes and raised so much money for the party, that “it would be odd for him to just drop off the map.”

So Romney remains in the center of the 2016 conversation. Another example: Hugh Hewitt, the influential talk radio host who will question GOP candidates this fall in CNN’s Republican debate, has published a new book calling on the eventual Republican nominee to pick Romney as vice presidential running mate, “thus borrowing the 2012 GOP nominee’s immense credibility, fundraising lists, and organizational expertise.” Hewitt, a longtime Romney supporter who helped edit Romney’s 2010 campaign book “No Apology,” calls a Romney VP choice “so obvious that we will know the quality of [the Republican candidate] by how early he embraces the selection publicly.”