Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney concedes the presidency at the Boston Convention Exhibition Center on Nov. 7, 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

National Journal

After two failed presidential campaigns, could the third time be the charm?
By Rebecca Nelson
October 6, 2014

While the “will he or won’t he” chatter of a third Mitt Romney presidential run balloons, the former Massachusetts governor and two-time candidate may be priming himself for a rare opportunity to get back in the game. And, at least according to some people close to the former candidate, that could come in a highly unusual way.

Though no Republicans have yet announced their candidacies, the field of potentials is already crowded. And aside from a few exceptions—former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee among them—the possible 2016ers would be running on the national stage for the first time.

The GOP’s election veteran hasn’t completely ruled out running again. Last month, Romney told The New York Times Magazine, “We’ll see what happens.” Taken alone, that’s not much to draw conclusions on. The ambivalence is a decidedly altered position, though, from his rhetoric since 2012, which can be summed up as a resolute “Never again.” Even as late as August, he told a crowd in Chicago that he was definitely not running.

It helps that Romney hasn’t faded quietly into political history. A household name for better or worse, he’s gone on the Sunday shows and stumped for fellow Republicans. In the last two years, as he’s hosted policy conferences and raised money for vulnerable Republicans, his hold on a significant slice of the GOP establishment has not eased up. If the 2012 election had been held in July of this year, according to a CNN/ORC poll, Romney would have beat President Obama handily, 53 percent to 44 percent.

“Every day, wherever he goes, morning, noon, or night, people stop him, call him, beg him, scream at him, ‘Please run,’ ” Ron Kaufman, a former senior adviser to Romney, told National Journal. “An awful lot of people in this country feel that Mitt Romney would be the best person to be president.”

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and the chance to beat Obama won’t ever come again. But under a special set of circumstances, Romney’s closest advisers see a window—albeit a small one—for the onetime GOP nominee to get in the race.

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