Mitt Romney was right about everything in 2012. So why not Romney 2016?
By Tim Stanley US politics Last updated: July 30th, 2014
Will Mitt Romney please adopt me? The Romster has been blogging about a fantastic vacation he’s taken his grandchildren on across the southwest (go there before the barbarians cover it in cable cars) and it sounds much nicer than the holidays I took as a kid. “All totaled, we hiked over 50 miles,” he writes. “Quite a feat for the young — and for Ann and me.” Boy, I’d love to tag along with them. On a Segway, natch.
It sounds as though Romney has given up all thoughts of running again in 2016, as he keeps telling us. But is he right to throw away a third bid so easily? Critics may laugh at the thought of “Romney 2016: the Last Stand” and journalists may cringe at the potential boredom. Yet it’s not such a dumb idea.
After all, the polls show that Romney would currently win a rematch with Obama – and do so comfortably. CNN/ORC International gives him a 53 to 44 per cent advantage. Men, women, white voters and everyone over 35 now prefer Mitt to the President. Only the young, non-whites and people in a coma back the White House. Admittedly, the same poll says that Romney would lose by 13 points to Hillary Clinton, which suggests that voters are less experiencing Mittmania than they are feeling buyer’s remorse. I’ll come back to that point in a moment, but for now let’s consider Romney’s advantage over Obama.
Almost everything that Romney warned us about Obama in 2012 has proven to be true. For example:
1. Romney said that Russia was a serious strategic threat to the US. The administration not only disagreed, it laughed the idea down. Now, it’s Putin who is laughing. Ukraine is in crisis, a passenger plane has been downed and America’s leadership is in question. Putin also put the kibosh on tackling Syria: so his reach extends well beyond the old USSR.
2. Romney said that Obamacare would be hard to implement and it sure was. The website barely functioned and the pledge that people could keep their own plans turned out to be a lie. There’s strong evidence that Obamacare has helped to insure the previously uninsurable, but the cost to business is yet to be seen. Also, it has created a whole new culture war struggle over the provision of contraception. Sandra Fluke’s campaign for free love was not an outlier but a vision of the future.
3. Romney said that Obama would struggle to work with Congress. Since 2012 we have had a round of fiscal standoffs and a humiliating shutdown of the federal government. Now there is wild talk of impeachment, while the President retreats to the golf course.
4. Romney took a strong stance on illegal immigration that might have seemed harsh or even irrelevant in 2012. Now US towns are besieged by a surge of children crossing the border – a humanitarian tragedy that is sorely testing the conscience of America. One poll found that almost half of Americans blame Obama’s policies for the problem, either because they have confused matters or because his rhetoric has encouraged more and more migration.
Of course, some of us also suspect Romney was right on Benghazi. Whether or not this will proved remains to be seen – but it is an issue that could haunt Clinton in 2016.
In short, Romney has a powerful narrative to spin here: “I was right back then, so maybe you should listen to me now.” And, if he ran in two years’ time, he’d be following in the footsteps of other great Republicans who have tried and tried again until the voters finally embraced them, including Nixon and Reagan. The big problem facing him would be that most voters probably don’t want 2016 to be a referendum on Obama but instead a vote for something fresh. And, at present, Clinton dominates the field thanks to her status as a global diplomat and the enthusiasm felt for her by women and minorities.
So, yeah, Romney in 2016 probably isn’t going to happen. But in a parallel dimension, the American people would give him another chance for the quality of his predictions alone. Then he could use his squillions of dollars to take us all on vacation to the great southwest.