Will former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney run for president again? And if he does could he win? Has it happened before?
Mitt Romney has allowed his friends to test the waters for another presidential run and with good reason.
- Obama is fading fast. He might as well have a sign on his desk, "The Buck Doesn't Stop Here."
- Romney knows what to do. He has already run for president twice.
- He co-opted the GOP caucus-primary system last time, making it Romney friendly.
- Just in case, he also strong-armed the last Republican National Convention and re-wrote the rules in his favor so he can actually lose in some key primaries and still overwhelm the vote and control the floor at the RNC. All he will need is a simple majority.
Has it happened before? Can a candidate run for president and lose and come back to win later?
Most presidents do. Barack Obama being the anomaly. In recent years, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, all ran for president and lost before finally winning.
But has a presidential candidate actually won the nomination, ran for president, lost, and then come back?
Yep. Three come to mind. William Henry Harrison ran as a Whig nominee in 1836. He lost but came back to win in 1840 and went on to the White House.
Grover Cleveland was elected president in 1884, lost his re-election bid but came back to win again in 1892.
And finally, Richard Nixon won the GOP nomination in 1960, losing to John F. Kennedy in the general election. He came back in 1968 to try again and this time won the presidency.
But all three of these examples are very complicated. Nixon, for example, after losing the presidency, ran for governor of California where he was defeated again. That defeat seemed to end his public career.
In 1964, the GOP experienced its conservative takeover and Barry Goldwater won the nomination. Many GOP leaders sat at home. Nixon jumped into the 1964 election and helped Republican candidates, seeking nothing for himself.
With his own career apparently over, he was seen as a non threatening, beloved figure and a great fundraiser. By 1968, the GOP wanted a winner and it united behind Nixon.
Romney is reminiscent of Thomas Dewey. He looks like a president, the few Republicans who are part of the media elite think he ought to be president but he won't even cross the street to shake hands with the people who can make it happen. Romney recently described how he would run again. If the other candidates all came to him and said, "We just can't do it we need you." Fat chance.
In 2012 Romney, a Mormon, was urged to meet with Evangelical Christian leaders. Didn't happen. No time. Gallup Polls show that 41 percent of the American public claim to be born again Christians. and they are the base of the Republican Party.
Romney took comfort from his Boston-Washington cronies and ignored them. He publicly laughed at the emerging libertarian wing of the GOP and shut down their efforts to participate in state conventions. Nor did Catholics fair any better. He had plain clothes security guards surround Hispanics on the floor of the RNC and rush them out of the building because they held up signs of other candidates.
Polls don't mean a lot this early. Some of it is only name recognition. Romney was the last GOP nominee.
Voters were forced to choose between he and Obama in the last election. Of much more significance is the recent Zogby poll which had Rand Paul running away with the GOP nomination, rather startling for an outsider, this early. And polls showing Rand Paul as the only GOP candidate beating Hillary Clinton in battleground states. But polls, even this early, can translate into money. Which brings up the point that Romney, unlike most of the other candidates, has money.
So if Mitt Romney runs again what are his chances? If he runs the same kind of exclusive, white, Mormon, campaign, don't be surprised if he gets the same kind of result. Winning campaigns like Obama, Clinton, Reagan, give the masses a sense of ownership. People feel a part of what has happened. They feel needed and included, not shutout or ridiculed.
Reagan appealed to White Mormon men in the Mountain states, Southern born-again Christians in North Carolina, Catholic, Democrat, union factory workers in Detroit, Mich., and highly educated Jews in Shaker Heights, Ohio. But he worked those constituencies humbly and earnestly.
I remember sitting with Reagan in a waiting room, anticipating a meeting with a pompous Evangelical leader. I have done the same with George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Can he win? History shows that it can happen. But it also shows that it will be difficult.
Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush. Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.
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