Chatter surrounds Mitt Romney’s decision to give an anti-Donald Trump speech last week — was he angling to have his name thrown in as candidate if the GOP convention becomes contested?
I won’t join that speculation, but I will declare this: If the convention delegates decide to sweep the slate clean and choose Mitt Romney, I’d support him. In a heartbeat. Even though I wasn’t wild about him in 2012. Here are seven reasons why I’d get behind him now:
1. If the delegates settle on Romney, this does not mean the so-called Establishment picked him. As I’ve pointed out already, the convention is made up of delegates who are usually grassroots Republicans, people who work in the trenches of conservative ideological battles in their states. The majority are not the elites, the DC insiders. They’re your neighbors, sometimes your friends and relatives. Radio talk show hosts who suggest otherwise need to get out more. As I’ve already pointed out, a contested election just means the delegates get to actually do their jobs — choose the nominee — instead of being props in a television show fewer people watch every year.
2. If no one candidate has a majority of delegates going into the convention, that tells us the majority of the GOP electorate opposed each of the current candidates, some more than others. Another candidate, such as Mitt Romney, would then be a reasonable choice. Donald Trump, for example, could go into the convention with a plurality of delegates. That’s not a majority. In fact, that signifies that the majority of GOP voters do NOT want him as the nominee. Sad to say, but the same can be said of the other candidates.
3. Unlike any of the candidates so far, Mitt Romney has actually won a majority of GOP primary votes — in 2012. This makes Romney different from other possibilities who aren’t running this year. Yes, you could suggest Sen. John McCain for this reason, as well — he won a majority of GOP primary votes in another year — but no one has been floating his name as a possibility, and I doubt he will be a contender.
4. Mitt Romney is the perfect “buyer’s remorse” candidate. While there has been news of a poll showing a huge majority of voters regret choosing President Obama in 2012, that poll was based on low numbers and insufficient data, so I’m not citing it here. Nonetheless, I think it’s reasonable to assume that, given our foreign policy problems in particular, many people might have voted differently in 2012, opting for the steady hand of Mitt Romney at the state’s helm. Which leads me to….
5. Mitt Romney was right four years ago about many things. Remember President Obama’s snarky response to Romney in a 2012 debate when Romney suggested we needed to be more vigilant about Russia’s intentions? (“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back…”). Well, Romney was right. And it won’t take much to remind people he was right and the Democrats were not just wrong, they were sophomoric in their response to his accurate analysis. He could remind voters of just how right he was in 2012 on everything from Russia to Benghazi, while the Democratic candidate would be touting the same — or variations of — policies President Obama has used with bad results.
6. The negatives against Romney are now old news. From Bain Capital to his comments on the “47 percent” to his support of RomneyCare in Massachusetts, the criticism of Romney has been out there before. He’d be better prepared this cycle to deal with it, and he might even have some sympathetic media unwilling to focus on it because of its “old news” whiff.
7. Finally, Romney would actually be a good president. There’s no doubt the man is competent. There’s no doubt he’s stable. There’s no doubt he knows how to work with a legislature. There’s no doubt he understands the problems that afflict this country and the world. And now, four years later, he has the additional insight that the rise of the Tea Party and Trump have brought forth — an angry, frustrated electorate who won’t accept the usual pat answers and slow progress on our challenges.
No one knows what will happen in the weeks ahead as the rest of the GOP primaries play out. But if the convention approaches with no candidate holding a majority of delegates, I think it behooves delegates to listen to and take seriously the message voters have been sending: the majority of Republican voters may be opposed to all the candidates left running, for one reason or another. Once they absorb that message, the next question becomes: Okay, then, who should we nominate? As pointed out above, there is a man who did win a majority of GOP voters’ support four years ago. That’s Mitt Romney. And he just might make a great president.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.