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August 18th, 2017

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Mitt Should Walk Away --- Not Run

Debra J. Saunders

By Debra J. Saunders

Published Jan. 16, 2015

Mitt Romney is thinking of running for president in 2016. According to The New York Times, that's what Romney told a group of big donors last week. Earlier, the former Massachusetts governor was thinking of running because the only other hefty Republican who could spare the party from a nutty primary — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — was too coy about his 2016 intentions. Now that Bush seems ready to brave the ring, however, Romney still feels a need to do the deed. Again.

Romney ran for the White House in 2008 but lost the primary to John McCain. Romney won the GOP primary in 2012, only to lose to a vulnerable incumbent. I should add that though Romney won the Massachusetts gubernatorial race in 2002, he had lost a Senate bid in 1994. Having won the Massachusetts State House, he did not run for re-election in 2006. Losing three out of four political campaigns, including two White House runs, usually doesn't make for a strong sales pitch in politics. No worries, Romney retainer Eric Fehrnstrom told the Times. "If that's the case, then Ronald Reagan never would have become president. Reagan ran three times."

Romney is the rare hopeful who doesn't need to win the White House to live in a bubble. He's already there. He has a tight-knit coterie of advisers who revere him and are loyal to him. Romney's ability to retain people speaks well for his ability to be a strong boss, but the downside is that he amassed a handful of ambitious handlers who are nothing without him. If Romney doesn't run, Fehrnstrom and friends are not in the heat of the game. So of course they tell Romney he really could win next time.

"Mitt learns from experience," Fehrnstrom added. Wrong. If Romney learned from experience, he wouldn't even think about putting himself and his family through another campaign grinder.

I voted for Romney in 2012. He was the superior candidate in a not-ready-for-prime-time GOP field. He was the better bet to bolster a flaccid economy. Before the Paris attacks, Romney saw the threat of Islamist terrorists gaining new footholds in the Middle East. President Barack Obama still does not acknowledge this threat as he should — even after the Paris shootings.

Even with the GOP's 2012 nominee's gaffe about 47 percent of voters who never would vote for him because they are dependent on government, Romney never understood the optics of his asset-rich life. It was not just that he said wife Ann drove "a couple of Cadillacs" but also the fact that the couple's five grown sons — fathers themselves — had all that time to stump for their dad. My guess is most parents see their kids in the less reverential Obama daughters. Supporters note that Romney can raise billions from big donors, but he never managed to work that money to appeal to alienated working-class voters.

With his "binders full of women" and boast of being "severely conservative," Romney came across to supporters as a very decent man but an unsatisfying politician. Many Republicans are at peace with the painful loss at the ballot, because they tell themselves Romney would have been a capable chief executive. They see the party's loss as truly the country's loss. A Rasmussen poll found that more voters thought Romney would be doing a better job as president than Obama was doing in September. That is a victory in itself. A wise man would choose to savor that esteem, not squander it.

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