The Republican Party’s biggest challenge today is demonstrating to America’s great middle that it has its interests at heart. And to do this, slogans and pie-in-the-sky policies aren’t going to work. What will work, instead, are concrete conservative policies that deliver results to America’s middle class. And Mitt Romney may be the man to lead the charge.

It may sound funny to cast as a conservative thought leader the laughably “severely conservative” man who built ObamaCare’s predecessor and flip-flopped on a raft of issues. But Mitt Romney is a data-driven, numbers guy who understands policy. In this new endeavor, his ideological flexibility would be an asset, not a liability, as it would allow him to think outside the traditional GOP box. How to replace ObamaCare? How to reform schools? How to make work pay again? What is needed is not just one idea, but dozens of ideas, and from many different strands on the right. Mitt Romney isn’t the guy to dream up these ideas. And he’s not the one to present them to America. But he very well might be the one to lead the conference room meetings and brainstorms at think tanks, to work the phones and pore over the numbers. Think of him as the general manager the conservative movement needs.

Like the venture capitalist he once was, Romney would be backing a portfolio of approaches to fixing America’s most pressing challenges. In so doing, he wouldn’t become president. But he might become something almost as good: an intellectual-elder statesman of the Republican Party. Not bad for a two-time loser’s new act.