This cycle, it also requires somebody who can withstand the vitriol that Trump and Clinton are sure to unfurl. Totally consumed by ambition for higher office, they are unconstrained by any sense of decency and have time and again launched the most base attacks. Trump exploited nativist grievances against Ted Cruz this winter, falsely slandering him as un-American. Clinton is no better. Liberals accuse conservatives of racialized attacks against President Obama, but the truth is that her campaign in 2008 was the first to deal that card from the bottom of the deck. An independent candidate must already have a reputation for integrity with the voters, otherwise the slanders from Trump and Clinton may prove overwhelming.
Governor Romney, there is nobody else but you who is capable of such a bid. It is a credit to your modesty and sense of decency that you demurred and instead tried persuade others to run. But there really is nobody else. General James Mattis, Senators Ben Sasse and Tom Coburn, and David French are all estimable men, but the enormity of the task was too great for them to accept. Only you possess the experience, the political network, the good health, and the time to dedicate to this great endeavor. Only you have the standing with the voters to endure the assaults of Trump and Clinton.
This is an incredible request, but you know that some Americans are called by Providence to give more than others. George Washington defended his nation during the Seven Years War, led it to independence in the Revolution, and by 1788 he wanted only to retire to his beloved Mount Vernon. But the nation needed him to launch the new government, so he answered the call. Four years later, he again wished for nothing more than the peaceful life of a country planter, but the harmony of the fragile union required yet another commitment from him. Again, he answered the call.