Mitt Romney’s big donors and his misfit band of 2012 advisers (who managed to make one of the most competent and generous men to run for the presidency look like a bumbling Scrooge) are trying, obviously and frantically, to keep their own hopes alive for another Romney run. They might want to rethink what they are doing. Here are 10 tips for the “Romney in 2016” crowd:
1. Using talking points like “Ronald Reagan ran three times” treats Republicans like dolts. Fellas, Reagan lost in 1976, then won in 1980 and 1984. Romney might, however, move in on Harold Stassen’s legacy. (Stassen tried for the presidency nine times. Never got there.)
2. The “rivalry” between Romney and Jeb Bush is like that between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The former is so confident of its own stature that it does not know there is a rivalry. Romney is Los Angeles.
3. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell doesn’t buy into a 2016 Romney run. (“I think Mitt Romney’s motivation here, people close to him think, in the end, he won’t do it, that all this talk is really antagonism against watching Jeb Bush getting so far out front that this is kind of, ‘If Jeb can do this, I can do it.’ But that in the end, he’ll realize, there’ll be a reality check. The third time is not a charm.”) Neither does the conservative blog Hot Air. When neither the liberal media nor sober conservative bloggers want to play along, Spencer Zwick needs a different hobby (other than trying to spin the media).
4. If Romney had really learned anything from 2012, he’d be telling his 2012 team to scram and he’d be out getting new, serious advisers who know how to poll, how to message and how to defend their candidate from smears.
5. Sure, Romney was right about Russia and plenty else and was the best of the GOP field in 2012, but he couldn’t stop offending large chunks of the electorate (“self-deportation,” insulting the “47 percent,” etc.). His conviction that the GOP has to appeal to the those in the entrepreneurial class, not the people who work for them, was dead wrong. These are reminders that being right and being admirable do not mean you get to be president. This lesson was not lost on a party desperate to win.
6. You get to be the party’s elder statesman only when you aren’t running for something. Once you do, you are fair game.
7. The idea of running to Jeb Bush’s right does not work when your gubernatorial record is less conservative than Bush’s on health care, taxes, the Second Amendment, etc.
8. Far and away, Romney’s best adviser in 2012 (maybe his only competent one in the top tier) was Ed Gillespie. Following his widely admired Senate run in 2014, Gillespie is likely to aim for the Virginia governorship. In other words, there will be no one available for triage this time.
9. When you are the butt of GOP jokes (“[W]hat can I tell you? Mitt happens”), it is time to stand down.
10. Inflicting a third run and almost certainly a third loss on Romney’s family would be, well, cruel.