Mitt Romney is among the most decent and generous men to run for president in recent memory. He was right about a host of issues, most especially on foreign policy. His obvious prowess as an executive is badly needed in the White House. I find it nearly impossible to believe he wouldn’t have been a better choice for the country than President Obama has been. But he should not run for president a third time. Here are 15 reasons why:
1. He put together and oversaw an awful campaign operation, which was endemically slow and tone deaf. The campaign made a thoughtful and kind man seem superficial and out of touch. (By the time Ed Gillespie joined the campaign it was too late to thin the ranks of hacks and sharpen the message.)
2. He worsens the party’s over-emphasis on entrepreneurs (to the detriment of workers).
3. There is a new focus on reform conservatism, with focus on policies designed to aid the middle and lower classes. Romney has not previously shown interest in such an agenda.
4. As the party (at least some of it) has tried to move to a more inclusive message, he is saddled with his “47 percent” expression of disdain for “takers.”
5. His immigration policy is summed up by the noxious phrase “self-deportation.”
6. Once Romney enters the political fray, he will lose his senior statesman role, one that is useful to the party and the country.
7. It is hard for him to make the argument that Hillary Clinton has been around forever and it’s time for someone new.
8. In promoting an anti-elitism message, the GOP has the upper hand against Hillary — unless Romney runs.
9. There are a number of fresher, more interesting candidates who would likely shy away from running against him (e.g. Rep. Paul Ryan). Even if others do run, Romney would suck up donors and operatives who would otherwise gravitate to a fresher, more electable figure.
10. He has not shown the ability to connect on a visceral level with voters, a necessary talent when the electorate is biggest.
11. There are roles for which he is better suited, including treasury secretary.
12. With the exception of the first presidential debate against Obama, he seemed to lack the skill and desire to go for the jugular. Anyone going up against the Clintons will need that.
13. It’s a mistake to run a backward-looking — “I told you so” — campaign, which his would eventually become.
14. He is not well situated to break off parts of the Democratic coalition (minorities, women, young voters).
15. He is likely to widen, not shrink, the gap between the establishment and the tea party sides of the GOP.