[guest post by Dana]
So, Mitt Romney: will he or won’t he? He certainly remains popular and admits he is “carefully weighing the pluses and minuses of another run.”
Ross Douthat, while hoping Mitt doesn’t run, points out why he is back in the spotlight:
Part of the answer can be found in Henry Olsen’s helpful analysis, from earlier this year, of how exactly Republican presidential primaries tend to shake out. Olsen offered a four-group typology of G.O.P. primary voters — secular conservatives, religious conservatives, moderate conservatives and Rockefeller-Republican centrists — and argued that the nomination almost always goes to the candidate who can rally the moderate conservatives and co-opt elements from the other constituencies while fending of challenges from the right and (sometimes, though less often) the center. There are different ways to do this (as evidenced by George W. Bush and John McCain’s very different paths to the nomination), but the trick doesn’t change that much from cycle to cycle — you want to seem conservative enough but not too right-wing, electable but not a liberal sellout, a safe choice for donors who also makes the party’s activists feel respected. You don’t win by running against those activists (as McCain did in 2000, and Jon Huntsman did in 2012), and you also don’t win by running as an ideological insurgent; you win by straddling dispositional and ideological conservatism, raising lots of money, and promising the best chance of victory in November.
Or shorter, per commenter Dustin: “The GOP doesn’t have to live up to any standard… it just has to be less awful than the opponent.”
Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin offers 15 reasons why Mitt should not run. Readers can decide for themselves the validity of her claims. Here is a sampling:
7. It is hard for him to make the argument that Hillary Clinton has been around forever and it’s time for someone new.
8. In promoting an anti-elitism message, the GOP has the upper hand against Hillary — unless Romney runs.
9. There are a number of fresher, more interesting candidates who would likely shy away from running against him (e.g. Rep. Paul Ryan). Even if others do run, Romney would suck up donors and operatives who would otherwise gravitate to a fresher, more electable figure.
12. With the exception of the first presidential debate against Obama, he seemed to lack the skill and desire to go for the jugular. Anyone going up against the Clintons will need that.
14. He is not well situated to break off parts of the Democratic coalition (minorities, women, young voters).
15. He is likely to widen, not shrink, the gap between the establishment and the tea party sides of the GOP.
In the meantime, Ted Cruz is playing it close to the vest, Rand Paul is waiting for his wife’s full support (and trying to figure out how to distance himself from his father), and Rick Perry is still trying to find his footing and make a comeback after the disappointment of 2012.