Of course, the general consensus is that not long after Mitt Romney lost the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 he immediately began preparing for another White House bid. After all, his decision not to run for re-election as the governor of Massachusetts -- combined with a number of “pivots” he made while still in office -- suggested that he was dead serious and hell-bent on winning the White House. Thus, when I read this article in the Post a few days ago, I was a little bit, well, surprised to be perfectly honest:
Mitt Romney wasn’t always sold on running for the White House a second time, according to a soon-to-be-released book about the 2012 presidential campaign by The Washington Post’s Dan Balz. The book details the Republican’s early opposition to the idea and his later consideration of pulling the plug on his nascent bid.
In the exploratory phase of his campaign in May 2011, Romney was preparing one morning to deliver a speech in Michigan to defend the health-care plan he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts and to attack President Obama’s health-care law. The Wall Street Journal released a scathing op-ed that day criticizing Romney for his Massachusetts plan.
Romney’s eldest son received a message from his father early that day, he told Balz. “ ‘I’m going to tell them I’m out,’ ” Tagg Romney recalled his father saying. “He said there’s no path to win the nomination.”
Romney confirmed after the election that he called his son one morning to tell him he thought he wasn’t going to run. “I recognized that by virtue of the realities of my circumstances, there were some drawbacks to my candidacy for a lot of Republican voters,” he told Balz. “One, because I had a health-care plan in Massachusetts that had been copied in some respects by the president, that I would be tainted by that feature. I also realized that being a person of wealth, I would be pilloried by the president as someone who, if you use the term of the day, was in the ‘1 percent.’ ”
Romney’s exchange with his son wasn’t the first time he expressed doubts about running. During a Christmas holiday trip to Hawaii in 2010, the Romney family held a vote. Should Romney, who lost the 2008 presidential primary, run again? Ten of 12 family members voted no — including the candidate. Only Tagg and Ann Romney, Romney’s wife, voted yes.
I can’t think of anything more stressful or trying than running for president. Thus it’s perfectly natural that Romney probably had some reservations about running a second time -- especially since he’d already been through a grueling presidential primary process once before and came up short. Perhaps it was his wife, Ann, who ultimately convinced him to go for it -- or perhaps it was the prospect of fulfilling one of his lifelong ambitions. I don’t know. But what I do know is that he probably would have been a very good president. And I was genuinely sorry to see him lose, mostly because I believed he had the skills and business experience to help jumpstart America’s sluggish economy. We rarely hear anything from the president these days about “jobs” or “economic growth.” Strangely, climate change seems to be his latest obsession.