Mitt Romney caused a manufactured media stir recently by declaring he was not seeking the 2016 GOP Presidential Nomination. After pushing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. John McCainSenate Republican Average49% in 2008, winning the nomination in 2012, but losing a winnable General Election to President Obama, Romney flirted with selling the idea of the “third time being the charm.” The mainstream media became dull with past Romney criticism, and touted every poll that showed Romney’s perceived strength. The quick declaration signaled Romney realized the role media desired him to play in the primary election.
Political analysts and experienced talking heads knew Romney’s lead in the polls would be short lived, and he was likely at his peak. Similar to a racecar driver that decides to remain on the track while his competitors pit for new tires, Romney’s lead was only due to his name recognition from being the only candidate that had ran in a national election. As voters began to gain comfort with other potential nominees, their poll numbers would rise; leaving Romney and his worn candidacy with little options outside of desperate attempts to block candidates as they zoom past.
I consider myself an intelligent individual, but I am not a unique sage in political campaign analysis. This fact leads to the conclusion that there was cause behind the liberal media allowing encouragement to grow freely behind another Romney campaign, and the subsequent frustration when the efforts failed. It was never about Mitt Romney, and always related to a desire to ensure Jeb Bush had some limits on his ability to fundraise. As reported for weeks, Bush and Romney would likely be in competition for support from the major Republican donors. In theory, Bush will now have access to more Primary Election cash to maintain separation from the next tier of GOP hopefuls; allowing him to stay on his preferred message, and focus on framing the choice between him and the Democratic Nominee.
Liberals and the mainstream media were joined by what is often referred to today as “Tea Party” Republicans in the desire for Romney to slow down a Jeb Bush campaign. Conservative radio hosts have led legions of listeners to the belief that Bush lacks conservative credentials. Democrats withholding criticism, the mainstream media pointing out a few subdued positives, and active conservatives suddenly identifying his conservative credentials allowed Romney to fall in a trap that would have diminished his overall legacy and weakened the GOP primary process.
I personally think highly of Mitt Romney, and his ability to lead. I think he would have been a successful President if elected, and superior to most other names often mentioned for the 2016 GOP nomination. The problem remains that Romney was unable to define himself, and was easily encompassed in a box of “white privilege”. There is no doubt the media and Democratic operatives would use the same playbook with Romney again, and there is little to suggest he would be more effective is combatting those efforts. Romney would have been sucked into running a campaign about yesterday by highlighting events during the last four years which proved his previous positions correct, but America elects Presidents that run campaigns based on tomorrow. Romney made the right decision for himself, his family, his political legacy, and the Republican Party because candidates with a clean slate and a new message would have surpassed him eventually.