Mitt Romney seems almost set to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nominee, but — surprise, surprise — a Romney 2016 bid must withstand a skeptical GOP leadership, one that has a good number of reasons to feel as though Romney just might not be the right candidate this time around.
The former Massachusetts governor ran a questionable campaign in 2012 — his gaffes cemented his reputation as a wealthy, out-of-touch politician — and after his failed second presidential endeavor, chief among the Republican National Committee's concerns is how will Romney's 2016 run be any different? The RNC's winter meeting on Friday will mark the first time Romney speaks publicly since revealing that he is considering running again, and it will likely be met with many deeply doubtful faces.
Many in the Republican leadership still harbor lingering disappointment from Romney's 2012 campaign, as some saw it as a botched opportunity at the presidency. Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, who endorsed Romney in the 2012 primary, hinted at him being a weak candidate:
Mitt Romney blew a golden opportunity. That was a winnable race, given the state of the economy and low approval of the president. If Mitt Romney gets the nomination, I think Republicans are headed for another loss.
Anuzis isn't the first who held that opinion. On Wednesday, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch himself said Romney was "a terrible candidate," marking just how little faith many have in him as a Republican presidential nominee yet again. And the potential candidates for 2016 — Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, to name a few — look incredibly formidable, especially in contrast to 2012's candidates — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain (oh, god).
Some are also unhappy about the manner in which Romney has conducted himself in the past year, with regards to his intentions on running. Last year, when asked by Ashley Parker at the New York Times if he would consider another presidential bid, Romney adamantly said no — 11 times, actually — even expressing his inclination toward Bush and Christie as candidates. His recent confirmation of his interest in running could mean intercepting money and support from Bush, who is widely considered to be a solid candidate — even by loudmouth former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
John Ryder, the GOP's general counsel and Tennessee committeeman, told TIME:
Obviously, I think all of us feel like if he had been elected in 2012, the country would be in much better shape. He’s got to make a case as to why this time would be better than the last time, and how he can reclaim the loyalty of some of the folks who have started to drift off. [Romney] doesn’t clear the field for anyone.
Although Romney's dream of becoming POTUS flickers on yet, perhaps his biggest obstacle now is to convince his party's leaders that he is worthy of another shot at leading the nation.
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