Our friend Matt Lewis takes to the pages of the Telegraph this week with an impassioned defense of the record – and perhaps future political viability – of Mitt Romney. And to be sure, a lot of the admittedly retrospective praise in this article is fully deserved.
First, since his 2012 defeat, Mr Romney has been proved right about a variety of issues. When he called Russia a “geopolitical foe” during a 2012 presidential debate, Mr Obama gibed: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has now been over for twenty years.” …
Within seconds of taunting Mitt over Russia, during that same debate, Mr Obama crowed: “Just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now.” …
But it wasn’t just foreign policy. On the domestic front, Mr Romney warned about ObamaCare, saying that some of the “people who counted on the insurance plan they had in the past” would “lose it”. In 2013, Politifact named the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” line their “lie of the year”.
It’s hard to argue with Matt on any of these points. Mitt Romney was proven to be right on a variety of important topics, and not just areas where he found some subtle difference of opinion with his debate opponent. Many of these are policy areas where Romney was openly and widely ridiculed, providing fodder for The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. Of course, nobody is laughing now.
But Lewis launches from this solid platform of analyzing Romney’s vision to speculate that it might not be all that crazy to think that Mitt should still wind up in the Oval Office.
He was often cast as a rich guy who led a charmed life. But Americans like a comeback story, and what better way to reinvent oneself as a man of the people than to have lost at something, only to get up, brush yourself off, and try again.
Mr Romney ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, falling short to John McCain. So this would be his third attempt at the presidency – which is not unprecedented. Most famously, William Jennings Bryan was a three-time losing Democratic nominee for president. But the American public has presumably grown more fickle since then.
He goes on from there to draw other historical parallels, further pointing out that Nixon lost presidential and gubernatorial bids in 1960 and 1962, only to go on to win the White House in 68. That’s certainly true, but I would note that the examples given come from a very different era, when American attitudes and the political machines of the day operated in a very different way. We had many perpetual candidates in the first half of the 20th century and it was nothing unusual. But the demand for something new all of the time in America has swept those old campaign modes aside. US voters in the modern era take a page from the opening speech of the movie Patton, never tolerating “a loser” for very long. Mitt was dedicated and persevered, but he’s now lost to both John McCain and Barack Obama.
Also, I simply don’t see any sort of grassroots conservative uprising to draft Mitt again. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Matt points to some recent polls which show that, if they had the chance to do it over again, voters wish they’d chosen Romney over Obama. True enough, and easy to understand, but that’s not to say that they wish to head to the theaters and watch this movie for a third time. Mitt still rings up big numbers in New Hampshire, but these are voters who carry a clear memory of Romney as a candidate for the best part of a decade and as yet have no definitive, declared candidates for the next cycle who aren’t mired in questions and controversy. As we get closer to 2016 and some substantial hats are tossed into the ring, that will probably change drastically.
And finally, there is the real missing piece of the Romney 2016 equation: we have yet to see any indication that Mitt is actually interested or could even be cajoled into another turn in the line of fire. As Noah pointed out in June, Romney has very recently been asked about it and said the idea was silly. Some members of Romney’s own inner circle have brought it up and gotten a response of (quote) No, no, no, no, no,no, no, no.
There may be a Draft Mitt movement taking place out there, but I think it’s largely a media creation. And even in as much as it may exist, Mitt himself doesn’t seem to be a member of it.