Third Time's the Charm for Mitt?

 Romney/Quayle in 2016? (image via  Gage Skidmore )

Romney/Quayle in 2016? (image via Gage Skidmore)

Looks like Mitt Romney is in the race for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. While he's got some built-in advantages, like name recognition, experience and organizational skill, the 2012 race didn't exactly cover him in glory. He's still the guy that the GOP base was so ambivalent about that that voters embraced every single one of his rivals before finally giving up and nominating him. He's still a real life Thurston Howell whose greatest business successes were used against him by both Republicans and Democrats. Unless something's changed in the last few years, he's also the same gaffe-prone, charismatically challenged guy who said things like "binders full of women" and "I have great friends who are NASCAR team owners." Oh, and he created the template for Obamacare. Sure, some of the things that hurt him in 2012 could actually play better in a GOP field in 2016, like "[there are] 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it" and that he isn't concerned about the very poor.

But arguably the biggest strike against him is that he's still the guy who lost to Obama (and it wasn't even particularly close). History isn't kind to guys like that. America doesn't typically elect people who have previously lost a Presidential race as a major party nominee. In fact, since the end of the Civil War, only Richard Nixon and Grover Cleveland won the White House after losing in the general election of a previous presidential race- and there were mitigating circumstances each time. Nixon was elected in 1968, eight years after losing in one of the closest Presidential elections in U.S. history. Cleveland, meanwhile, lost in 1888 as the incumbent President in a narrow race against Benjamin Harrison before beating Harrison in a rematch four years later (cementing his legacy as the guy who served two non-consecutive terms). Romney wasn't exactly a few votes away from winning the White House. Heck, even Al Gore and John Kerry came closer to winning their races than Romney. Does Romney really want to experience what Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson or William Jennings Bryan experienced? I guess so.

Then again, it's human nature for Romney to want to run again. After all, ambitious people like Romney don't come that close to their ultimate goal and then give up. That's why Hillary Clinton is probably going to run for President in 2016 and it's why Nixon didn't give up after losing in 1960. The thing is that Romney seems to think that he was much closer than he really was to winning the White House. Otherwise, you don't go into Election Night with only a victory speech in hand.

In any event, it'll be interesting to see how Romney's finances have changed over the last four years. So, I guess it's as good as an opportunity as any to revisit my profile of Brad Malt, the Ropes & Gray chairman who serves as Romney's trustee. Romney is a loyal guy, so I'm guessing Malt will be back in the spotlight as 2016 approaches.

Victor Li

chicago, il