For Romney, Is It Third Time's The Charm?

Posted: Aug 31, 2014 8:35 PM

So, should Mitt Romney run again? It’s a question that frustrates conservative since Mr. Romney wasn’t the best candidate to discuss things, like health care, that could have really energized the base in 2012. As Dan wrote last week, Romney’s killing it in the polls. In Iowa, one-third of the respondents would drop support of their current candidates in the 2016 field to back him.  Is this the beginning of Romney 2.0?

I admit that Romney’s “I told you so” platform could play well; Americans like comeback stories.  He's been right about pretty much everything, especially on foreign policy. But then there’s the issue about his stiffness as a candidate and his inability to fully unite the base. 

Also, health care and immigration will continue to plague Romney. On immigration, we have his statements supporting self-deportation, which would be replayed on a loop by Democrats. We could then say goodbye to Hispanic outreach efforts. 

On health care, even if Romney has a more detailed plan to fix Obamacare, he’ll once again be pelted with how Romneycare was the blueprint for Obamacare. Here’s a 2007 clip of him saying how Romneycare should be taken nationwide.

Lastly, the Heartland Institute’s Ben Domenech tore into the narrative that Romneycare’s economic effects were confined to the Bay State. In 2012, while on the Blaze, he listed off numerous figures showing how Romneycare was just bad policy. “Massachusetts spends more per capita on health care than anywhere else in the industrialized world,” he said. “Right now, under its current track–by 2020–health care costs will make up more than 50 percent of the state budget.” He also noted that within a few years Romneycare has gone over budget. Gov. Deval Patrick went down to Washington to ask for more money and got $4.3 billion more than they had asked for from federal taxpayers. Domenech also mentioned that Romney’s own advisers at the time admitted that his health care plan increased the cost of premiums when he was governor. That's not the best track record for the person who would be running against the president’s health care plan...again.

Oh, as for reaching single, urban women, none of us should expect him to perform better with that demographic either.

Nevertheless, there’s the comparison with Ronald Reagan. Reagan was governor and ran for president twice before his successful 1980 campaign. Supporters of Romney think he could do the exact same thing (via Business Insider):

There is precedent for a two-time loser finally winning the presidency on his third try. Ronald Reagan made a last-ditch effort to secure the GOP nomination in 1968. He nearly wrested it from an incumbent president in 1976. But it was only in 1980 that Reagan, at age 69, finally won. Of course, Reagan was famously charismatic, and he had been a conservative folk hero for years by the time he finally won the Republican nomination. The same can’t be said of Romney.

Nevertheless, there is something to the Reagan parallel. Though he commanded the loyalty of conservatives, Reagan was a decidedly pragmatic governor of California who acquiesced to tax increases, the liberalization of the state’s abortion laws, and other measures that should by all rights have scandalized the right.

By the time Reagan ran against Gerald Ford in 1976, however, he presented himself as a conservative purist, devoted to devolving power to state governments and taking a tougher line against the Soviet empire. Between 1976 and 1980, he again underwent another subtle but important shift, smoothing some of his ideological rough edges and offering a more optimistic brand of conservatism tailor-made to appeal to voters who had grown tired of Carter-era malaise.

Could Mitt Romney pull off a similar feat? I wouldn’t rule it out.

All we can do is hope that Ann Romney and the rest of the family shoot down another presidential run with another emphatic "NO" vote. Then again, as Dan mentioned in his post, Romney “left the door kind of open to running again -- but not really” in his interview with Hugh Hewitt.  Maybe it'll all just be a bad dream.