Friday, June 20, 2014

DRAFT MITT! (He's On Tap!)

The Onion: It Doesn't Just 'Go There'--It Immigrates
Yesterday Romney came in a striking first-place in a New Hampshire 2016 presidential poll:
Romney gets 24 percent of the vote when tested in a field with a dozen others, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Christie (9 percent) and Paul (8 percent) run a distant second and third.
When Romney's name is not included, Christie and Paul lead the pack with 11 percent apiece. But 32 percent -- a plurality -- say they are undecided.
As the article notes, this isn't especially interesting: Romney has a towering name-recognition advantage over the others: with 2+ years before the vote, this isn't surprising. It also isn't especially surprising that big-money donors like Mitt: at a pass-the-torch retreat Romney himself organized, there was apparently a lot of chatter about bringing him back. While part of this may be a sign of the donor-vs-base 'civil war' (going from scare-quotes to single-quotes with Cantor's loss!), it's more likely that Romney represents everything a big-money donor would look for: a savvy CEO-type who has all the credentials necessary to win and won't flame out like a Cain or Trump.

He's a gamble, sure--but his parameters are far narrower.

Of course history says that 3-times is definitely not the charm. No one has ever done it with a L-L-W track record, as Romney would need to. Also, it's safe to say that The Base is less than enamored with Romney as a hard-core conservative candidate--even if they give him a lot more credit now than he got when he was slugging it out in the primaries.
Still Not Thrilled, Though

Who's The Top Contender for 2016?

The betting money says "Jeb:" So does The Omnivore.
At The Very Bottom Were Palin and Bachmann And Palin Was Ahead
This isn't a bad bet: The GOP nomination engine seems to skew towards establishment governors with name recognition (but it's the wrong name! WRONG NAME!!). Here's why The Omnivore thinks that PredictWise (which you should be following--especially in absence of actual polling--which the New Hampshire poll, years before the election, really isn't):

Mitt Romney was an economy candidate--in fact, was pretty much his only game:

  • He was a "corporations are people, my friends" business-man
  • "You Didn't Build That" spoke in no particular way to workers--but was designed to win the election on the backs of all small-business owners
  • He was far richer than any American president ever would have been
  • He listed the Utah Olympics as a major success story--economic gold
  • He sure didn't connect with 'common' people
  • He totally fumbled foreign policy Benghazi (both the night of and during the debates), his world-tour 1st stop (England), and during the debates (The Navy has fewer ships)!
  • He got some things (at least kinda) right about Russia and Iraq--but never articulated a foreign policy framework that made those seem like much beyond basic guessing.
Jeb Bush, believe it or not, would be a more well-rounded candidate. Why? 
  • Donor appeal within Romney's range. Perry comes close (Texas money) and Walker is, at least, another governor--but Jeb fits the bill of appealing to fat cats. This is more important than probably anyone wants to think.
  • The Bush Doctrine: Jeb will be a hawk candidate because of his brother. While the American people are freakin' tired of war right now in 2 years they'll be ready for some more muscle--especially moderate Republican voters (neo-cons shamed into retreat). Bush will carry that mantle.
  • Economy. He won't have Romney's strength (super-star CEO) but he won't have his weaknesses either ("My friends own NASCAR teams!"). Whether the economy is bad or terrible, he'll be within the range of acceptable credentials.
Also note: the real issue with Romney is that his wife apparently really doesn't want him to run and he's not enough of an asshole to do that to her again. Yes, you read that right.

Perry, Rubio, and Walker are all reasonable choices as well--Rubio may well be rehabilitated from his Gang of Ocho pratfall and it seems unlikely anything will come from the Walker allegations. Perry will have a pretty steep hill to climb--but he has Tea Party appeal and that's not nothing.

The Big Deal Here Though

The big deal here, though is that even without a lot of name recognition below the Mitt-level, the fact that he's still number one, by a wide margin, and is seriously not running even if others there clearly are, is telling. The sign is that the Republican party is looking for a uniter not for the country--but themselves. That is something Romney fits in a way no other candidate does.

Why? Because everyone voted for him last time--that's why. Evangelicals did. Libertarians (some) did. Social Conservatives did. Social moderates did. Married women did. Hassidic Jews did. Conservative Blacks did. 

Romney was, yes, the alternative to Obama--but he was also, in the end, the standard bearer. The crowds were massive and pumped up. He cut a lean, leader-like figure. In the end he did unite the party--even if only for a few weeks--even if only under heavy opposition.

But he did--and that's why he's currently #1.

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