2012 GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has closed the door on a 2016 run so many times that columnists and analysts have mostly left him out of their predictions and polls. With a recent poll showing that Romney would defeat Obama if the election was run again today, however, many in the Republican party are reconsidering what the former Massachusetts governor could mean to the party. Even if he doesn’t run again, it seems clear that Republicans around the country are willing to use him as a surrogate in their political campaigns.
This August, Romney will be in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas, campaigning on behalf of Senate and gubernatorial Republican candidates in those states. He is also scheduled to hit Colorado and Virginia in September. Even beyond the next two months, the man once seen as the GOP’s best hope is in high demand. Senate candidates in New Hampshire and Iowa are hoping he will stump for them in the weeks leading up to the mid-term elections, and Romney is said to be considering additional trips to fierce battleground states this fall.
For all of the political capital he brings to smaller races (and polling shows that he still has a significant fanbase out there), Romney remains steadfast in his denials of a 2016 presidential run. It would make his third attempt at the office if he gave it a go, but many of his loyal supporters maintain that he would make a stronger candidate this time around. It’s unclear why that should be, especially when the same poll that showed he could now beat Obama had him substantially behind Hillary Clinton.
Even if he isn’t the right man for the big job, though, he is exactly what the GOP needs on the campaign trail. Republicans have been missing a big-time elder statesman for a long time. There is really no GOP equivalent to Bill Clinton, a guy who can always come on the scene, drop a few words, and hold a whole party in rapt attention. If Reagan had been younger and healthier, he would undoubtedly be the go-to guy, but the Bushes have never been right for the role. This leaves a scattering of voices like Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and Sarah Palin, all of whom have a smattering of fans and detractors. According to campaign directors around the country, though, no one moves the needle like Mitt.
Right now, the GOP is looking at contenders like Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, and Chris Christie. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz are also eyeing a spot on the 2016 ticket.