September 4, 2014
If Mitt Romney Isn't Relevant, Then Who Is?

Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential run did not end well. After even fervent Barack Obama supporters admitted Romney trounced him in the first debate, it looked like Mitt might have at least come close to being one of the only candidates in history to unseat the sitting president. But then there was the "47 percent" remark, followed by two much less victorious debates, and Romney ended the election with an embarrassing 47 percent of the vote.

But despite his 2012 performance, has Mitt managed to stay more relevant than some of his losing predecessors? Al Gore is an outlier in terms of post-loss career trajectory, but you'd be hard pressed to find many millennials who could tell you who Bob Dole is. Romney, on the other hand, has been taking interviews, giving speeches and yes -- even topping polls ahead of Obama.

Even better for Romney, there have been a few times that "things Mitt said that made us laugh" turned out to be "things Mitt said that turned out to be true." But a Washington Post editorial by Marc A. Thiessen points out that those home runs might be all the more reason to shy away from a 2016 run.

"No doubt Romney has been vindicated since 2012. He was right about Russia and correct when he warned that Obamacare would force millions to lose their health plans. But let's not forget that Romney was also a horrible presidential candidate. He faced one of the most vulnerable incumbents in modern times — and found a way to lose."
Instead of pushing for Mitt -- even though Thiessen openly says he'd prefer Romney was in the White House -- the editorial cautions that the candidate was really only able to emerge with the nomination because of who he was up against. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul -- who doesn't even fully identify as a Republican -- weren't exactly stiff competition for Mitt, noted by the fact that he more than doubled the votes of runner-up Santorum.
"In 2016, Republicans have a much stronger field of potential candidates to choose from. Thanks to the GOP's sweep of statehouses in recent years, a slew of successful governors other than Romney could run, including Mike Pence, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Scott Walker. (Full disclosure: I co-authored a book with Walker.) There is no need to settle for the 'least worst' candidate this time around."
From the list that Thiessen gives, at least two have been more unpopular in the news lately than Romney was going into 2012. Christie's fateful transit debacle has perhaps destroyed his chances for the presidency in 2016. Walker passed an anti-union law that could make it hard for him to attract centrist voters even if he makes it to the final round. Jeb Bush, of course, has the unfortunate problem of his last name, even though George W. Bush has seen a resurgence of approval since leaving office. Mike Pence and John Kasich might both have it in them, but their names aren't nearly as well known nationally as the likes of Christie and Walker at this point, and certainly not as well known as Mitt when he ran.

Which leaves us at Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Although Jindal is Indian and not Latino, the Republican Party would be given the opportunity to have a racial minority lead its ticket for the first time in history, which could be wise after taking a look at Romney's exit poll numbers last election, reported by The Huffington Post.

Is Mitt Romney relevant enough to run in 2016?

Who do you think could have a better candidacy than Mitt Romney, or would you like to see him run again?

[Image via Wikipedia]