Many pundits have suggested that Mitt Romney’s political obituary was written after his 2012 devastating defeat. They were wrong. Romney could be the next Richard Nixon and return from the dead.
Like Romney, Nixon (the 37th president) lost two elections before winning the White House in 1968 (the second was a gubernatorial race). In the aftermath of those defeats, Nixon quietly travelled around the country campaigning for GOP candidates and dismissing any possibility of a future presidential bid.
Romney appears to be following in the footsteps of Nixon.
On Thursday, he traveled to Michigan to support GOP candidates running for statewide office. Among them included Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is seeking a second term, and Terri Lynn Land, a candidate for the U.S Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Carl Levin.
The significance of the Michigan visit goes well beyond the fact that Romney was born there and that his father once occupied the governor’s mansion: Michigan is a crucial swing state that he lost in 2012 by nearly ten points.
Romney is not the only potential 2016 GOP candidate to recognize the importance of carrying the Wolverine State’s sixteen electoral votes. Jeb Bush also will make an appearance in the state on October 13 to attend a fundraiser supporting Governor Rick Snyder’s re-election bid.
Against the backdrop of this week’s event, speculation continues to fuel about the possibility of a third presidential campaign.
Hunter Schwarz of The New York Times wrote in his column of September 30th:
When Mitt Romney was asked if he was considering running for president in 2016 in a New York Times magazine article Tuesday, he said, “We’ll see what happens.”
“I have nothing to add to the story,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people looking at the race.”
Romney’s refused to give a definitive answer regarding his plans for 2016, but he has a good reason to be hopeful: many polls indicate that Americans are tired of President Obama and his liberal policies.
A CNN poll taken at the end of July stipulated that Romney would defeat Obama in a theoretical rematch by nearly ten points. And while Obama’s name will not appear on the 2016 ballot, such sentiment could hurt any potential Democratic nominee.
Richard E. Vatz, professor of political science at Towson University said Romney may have a better chance of success in 2016.
“The last two years of the Obama Administration’s lack of ability to get the economy to experience a significant recovery and his relatively feckless foreign policy, adumbrated by his now-proved-incorrect rejoinder to Romney in a presidential debate that Russia is no longer a threat, combine to make Gov. Romney a very attractive candidate,” Vatz said.
Vatz’s colleague, Jack Fruchtman (also of Towson), disagrees with this assessment: “My sense is that Romney is pretty far down the list for potential Republican nominees who, to me, are more numerous at this point than what the Democrats have (Hillary Clinton).,” he said. “First, Romney’s 2012 run: it was a disaster, no matter how you look at it … In some respects, his comments throughout the campaign sent votes, especially among independent voters, to Obama. He would have an awfully hard time overcoming that history.”
As of Friday afternoon, Maryland Democratic Party spokesman Jared Smith and his Republican counterpart Joe Cluster have not responded for an interview.
Romney’s decision of whether or not to enter the fray may in part be influenced by the list of candidates he would face in the primaries. Jeb Bush would likely be the hardest candidate to out maneuver given his name recognition and political connections. It is widely believed that Romney would opt out of the race if Bush decides to run.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also could prove to be a formidable opponent. It is doubtful that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will gain enough support to clench the nomination, although they could make the primary process unpleasant for Romney by challenging the authenticity of his conservative credentials.
If Romney is able to secure the nomination, his fate will likely be decided by how he stacks up next to Hillary Clinton.
Bryan is a freelance political journalist who has extensive experience covering Congress and Maryland state government.
His work includes coverage of the election of Donald Trump, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions-as well as that of the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Larry Hogan, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryan has broken stories involving athletic and sexual assault scandals with the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
His original UMBC investigation gained international attention, was featured in People Magazine and he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and local radio stations. Bryan broke subsequent stories documenting UMBC’s omission of a sexual assault on their daily crime log and a federal investigation related to the university’s handling of an alleged sexual assault.