Mitt Romney reportedly has told a group of donors in New York that he is considering running for president again next year. With Jeb Bush trying to round up donors, Romney needed to indicate interest, but only if he has some. Clearly, he does.
Romney is expected to announce his decision within the next 60 days, according to Spencer Zwick, one his advisers. Having reportedly told the donor group that he is “the best candidate, with the best solutions, the best ideas,” it seems at least as likely as not that Romney will enter the race.
Romney’s entry would create competition for the mantle of “establishment favorite. In fact, the competition could become three-way: Bush, Romney, and Chris Christie.
Romney isn’t likely to fret about hurting the prospects of either, even though doing so would help, say, Ted Cruz. Bush was very slow to endorse Romney in 2012 and the two are said to be “not close.” Christie helped undermine Romney by enthusiastically embracing President Obama in the closing days of the 2012 campaign.
Of the “establishment three,” I prefer Romney. He is more conservative than Christie and, at this juncture, probably more conservative than Bush. Moreover, Bush is the brother of an unpopular president; Romney was the opponent of one. This may make Romney more electable.
But buyers’ remorse won’t carry Romney to the White House. In two long campaigns, Romney has yet to demonstrate the ability to connect with voters. It’s pretty clear that he never will.
For me, the best nominee would be a fresher face who can appeal to both “establishment” Republicans and more conservative ones — a “bridge candidate,” to use my favored description. Right now, Scott Walker looks like the paradigm bridge candidate. He’s yet to face the national spotlight, though. I don’t assume he can’t handle it, but we’ll have to see.
We could be looking at quite a field: Bush, Romney, Christie, Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, for starters. Other potential entrants include Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and Mike Pence. Each could be formidable in his own way.
Even half of that field might very possibly generate the most competitive, most fascinating race a presidential nomination that either party has seen in the years I’ve been following politics.