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Opinion Romney has no more excuses

Key moments from a speech in which former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Donald Trump "is playing the members of the American public for suckers" (Video: Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

Like dinner guests in a murder mystery, potential candidates for a third-party run for president have disappeared one by one. Their reticence to run seems inversely proportionate to the growing need for an alternative to Hillary Clinton (who cannot be counted on to follow clearly articulated rules designed to protect national security nor to tell a straight story when caught) and to Donald Trump, who seems less fit to serve with each outburst, new conspiracy theory and lie.

Without a center-right alternative, America, at a critical juncture, will be stuck with one of two exceptionally flawed candidates, either one of which would easily make the Top 10 in the list of “worst nominees of a major party.”

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Mitt Romney, as some Republicans and other right-leaning Americans have figured out, may be the last plausible candidate to spare the republic from either of these two characters. A basic checklist would suffice to show his superiority to either major candidate:

Has not declared bankruptcy or broken any government rules? Check.
Has had a single spouse to whom he is devoted, and given gobs of charity with no personal benefit to himself? Check.
For a politician, is reasonably honest? Yup.
Was far-sighted enough four years ago to see foreign policy debacles unfolding? Yes, that too.
Is an able executive? Yes, once again.

To be blunt, anyone able to articulate a complete sentence, have a working understanding of the Constitution and major policy issues and not be a complete scoundrel would be an improvement over the two major party nominees. Romney is a composite of Albert Schweitzer and Winston Churchill compared with Trump or Clinton.

Romney reportedly is exceptionally reluctant, maybe even firmly opposed to a run. With each passing week, however, his reasons for not running evaporate.

Someone else can do it. Nope.
If he loses, he will be a goat. Listen, a good faith effort to rescue the conservative movement, defeat the thoroughly reprehensible Trump and save at least one house of Congress will, I would venture, go down as admirable, even heroic. If he does not run, he’ll carry part of the burden of the result.
The Republican voters have spoken. Yes, disastrously so but that is why the American people deserve something better. This, after all, is about rising above party. If Romney could not bring himself to endorse the Republican because the nominee is morally and intellectually unfit, how, then, is he to deny the voters a better choice?
He isn’t the best messenger for a center-right alternative candidate in a year of the outsider. True, but remember we are out of options here.
It’s time to “unify.” As we have pointed out, Trump is not unifying Republicans. He is forming his own cult-like following simply using the Republican Party’s infrastructure. By winning, he gets the right to do that. But, then, Republicans owe him no particular loyalty.
It is a terrible burden on his family. No doubt. But if any family has shown the ability to rise above the ugliness of politics, it is the Romney clan.
Where is the money going to come from? There are a sufficient number of big donors who’d rejoice if Romney ran. Moreover, Trump’s shown that free media will get you very far. Romney, remember, has also done this before and has the volunteers and know-how required to run a national campaign. He does not need a fleet of advisers or huge campaign apparatus. Given the desperation of many in the GOP, he would be inundated with free advice and manpower from elated volunteers, operatives and policy mavens.
His message did not resonate in 2012. Very true, but he seems to have learned the lesson that the country is not made up solely of armies of entrepreneurs. He can adopt a good deal of his former running mate Paul Ryan’s agenda and/or of Jeb Bush’s policy campaign book. Both of these wonks understand and have proposals to address the two central issues of our time: Restoring American leadership and the American Dream of upward mobility.
Who’d he run with? Dozens of energetic, bright and diverse faces come to mind, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (we know she can shoot back at Trump), and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

Romney may have other concerns about a presidential run, but given how serious the challenges the country faces are and how dismal the current choice for president is, do those concerns really override the opportunity to rescue the country from the dreaded Clinton vs. Trump face-off? Romney-Haley 2016?