Mitt Romney 2016: The Third Time’s The Charm?

Romney 2016? Anything's possible, but probably not.


Veteran CBS reporter, and host of Face The Nation, said today that Mitt Romney may consider getting into the race for the 2016 Republican nomination:

Mitt Romney has said time and time again that he has no interest in running for president a third time.

But, on Sunday morning, CBS’ Bob Schieffer said not to write off the idea of a 2016 campaign by Romney so quickly.

“I have a source that told me that if Jeb Bush decides not to run, that Mitt Romney may actually try it again,” Schieffer said.

During a political panel discussion, the “Face the Nation” host said that he has been told that Romney will consider seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016 if former Florida governor Jeb Bush chooses to sit the race out.

Romney and Bush are considered similar candidates — both moderate former governors who enjoy the support of much of the GOP establishment but draw skepticism from the party’s conservative ranks.

Several major Romney donors told The Washington Post earlier this year that Bush would be their preferred Republican candidate in 2016.

I don’t find it implausible that the big money donors that backed Romney in 2012, and who are now apparently pulling for Jeb Bush to enter the 2016 race, would go to Romney and ask if he’d “consider” getting into the race if Bush didn’t. I also find it believable that Romney, who is friends with many of these people, might even tell them that, yes, he’d consider running again under those circumstances. However, when it comes down to the possibility of Romney actually running for President again, color me skeptical.

Losing Presidential candidates who run for the office more than once are something of a rarity in American politics, and they’ve rarely been successful. Thomas Dewey (GOP nominee in 1944 and 1948) and Adilai Stevenson (Democratic nominee in 1952 and 1956), of course, are two examples of repeat candidates that failed. Going further back in history, William Jennings Bryan was the Democratic nominee in 1896 and 1900 against William McKinley, and in 1908 against Theodore Roosevelt, and he lost all three elections. On the other hand, there are the examples of Richard Nixon, who was the Republican nominee in 1960 and 1968) and Ronald Reagan (who ran for the Republican nomination in 1968, 1976, and 1980) are the only two recent examples of candidates who ran for President more than once and ended up winning the General Election. Romney, of course, ran in 2008 as well as 2012, but it’s worth remembering that Romney almost didn’t get into the 2012 race. According to interviews he gave both before and after the 2012 General Election, Romney discussed the possibility of getting back into the race with his family and, initially, he was the one member of the family who was against the idea. It was only after lobbying from his wife and sons that Romney decided to throw his hat back into the ring again. Yes, he won the nomination in 2012 but it was, by all accounts, a long, brutal and exhausting affair for him and his family.

Unlike Dewey, Stevenson, Nixon, and Reagan, Romney is not a professional politician. He may have served as Governor of Massachusetts and run for President twice, but he didn’t make his career in politics and even when he was on the campaign trail he never really struck me as someone who enjoyed the campaigning part of politics. Now, he’s a very wealthy man with a big family and plenty of grandchildren. He’s already taken his shot at the White House and fallen short? Why would he want to put him and his family through that again? Anything’s possible, I suppose, but I’d put the chances of Mitt Romney taking another shot at the White House as being about as likely as Sarah Palin inviting Barack Obama for a cookout in her backyard.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    As a progressive I can only say “bring it on” “make my day.”

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Man, I worry about a country that’s looking to people named Bush, Clinton and Romney as candidates. What’s next? Are we all out of Mondales?

  3. trumwill says:

    In the Romney context, Nixon is the only really useful example of someone who lost and then ran again. Among Republicans, having lost a previous primary and then run again is more the norm than the exception to the norm. The general sense is that if you had your chance in a two-person race and didn’t win it, it’s not worth taking a chance on the guy again. John Kerry contemplated a run in 2008, but ran against the same thing.

    And so it is with Romney. I can imagine scenarios in which Romney could win in 2016, though I think it’s likely to go to the Democrats in any event. But I don’t see any reason to look at Romney and think that he could win a race that, say, Paul Ryan or Scott Walker would lose. Romney lost in 2012 due to baggage that hasn’t exactly gone away. Which is why Kerry in 2008 was a no-go, and Romney will likely think better of it regardless of what Jeb decides.

  4. trumwill says:

    @michael reynolds: The Democrats are short a Mondale thanks to Jesse Ventura. BUT! How about a Cuomo instead?

  5. michael reynolds says:


    I’ll take a Cuomo. A Warren might be fun, too.

  6. @michael reynolds:

    With Beau apparently running for Governor of Delaware, the Biden’s may be making a bid to enter the Political Dynasty Club

  7. @trumwill:

    @michael reynolds: |

    Andrew Cuomo might be a possibility. But I personally doubt he’d run for POTUS if Hilary does (and if she’s the nominee, he won’t be the VP choice because they both reside in the same state)

    He’s young, though, so 2020 or 2024 are possibilities for him. And, I doubt he’ll play the same “Hamlet On The Hudson” game that his father did in 1992

  8. al-Ameda says:

    Romney again?
    Well, that’s certainly consonant with our New Gilded Age.
    I look forward to a reprise of all that is the wonderful life of Mitt Romney.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Until he’s willing to endorse torture…he doesn’t stand a chance with the base…because tirture is the Conservative position.

  10. Franklin says:

    @C. Clavin: If anybody is still on the fence about Sarah Palin, that one should decide it. What a disgusting human being. Also, she failed to even include the word ‘alleged’ which would have at least been an honest assessment of what the United States did.

  11. Hal_10000 says:

    I would be very surprised if Romney ran again. If you watch the Netflix documentary “Mitt” you can see that it exhausted him. That he hated the political BS and the constant press crap and the toll it was taking on his family, but felt that he had to run (and given the insanity in the rest of the GOP field, he was right). I don’t think he will run again and I don’t think he should.

  12. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    For the love of country, someone please shake the GOP out if its wretched nightmare.

  13. Kylopod says:

    There is one failed nominee in modern times who I think might have been a serious candidate later, and that’s Al Gore. Of course, that has a lot to do with the fact that he didn’t really lose the first time around. (Also, he became somewhat of a hero on the left in the 2000s due to his advocacy against global warming and early opposition to the Iraq War.) According to the book Game Change, Obama actually sought Gore’s assurance that he would not run in 2008, before jumping into the race himself. Apparently, Obama figured he didn’t stand a chance if Gore also ran, because it would eat into the insurgent, antiwar base that was fueling his campaign.

    Although it was never especially common for a failed nominee to be nominated again, it’s notable that it hasn’t happened at all since 1972, the year the nomination process was overhauled (initially on the Democratic side, but soon to be followed by the GOP) so that it centered on primaries, with the conventions becoming mere coronation ceremonies. Back when Bryan, Dewey, Stevenson, etc., were nominated multiple times, the nominees were essentially picked by a body of elites behind closed doors. It kept it from becoming the media circus it is today, and I think that’s why losing nominees in modern times are much likelier to be branded as “losers,” preventing them from being considered again.

    That’s why I wouldn’t put my bets on Romney now, regardless of his intentions. While you will meet plenty of GOP rank-and-file who will tell you that the 2012 election was stolen by the IRS or ACORN or whatever, the overall consensus on the right is that Romney blew a perfectly winnable race. If you can’t bring down the guy “everyone knows” has revealed himself as the Kenyan Marxist usurper he always was, there must be something seriously wrong with you as a candidate.

  14. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think Cuomo’s presidential future is about as rosy as his fat twin Christie’s is. Here’s the thing — you don’t have to run as a political reformer, but if you do, and if you win, and if you appoint a commission to examine and fix corruption in the legislature, you don’t get to lean on the commission to leave your buddies alone… or to shut it down when they get too close to you and then explain that by saying “It was my commission, I can do what I want.”

    And that was after he’d alienated state Democrats by striking a deal to let the minority Republicans control the legislature.

    Who is this man’s constituency? If he was just about screwing his fellow Ds, I’d say he’d appeal to all those “bipartisanship” junkies in the punditry. But they also tend to be good government types, and announcing yourself to be objectively pro-corruption doesn’t work with them.

  15. Tillman says:

    If he can run without being a political T-1000, sure. Stake some positions, stop equivocating, maybe even try talking truth to the base. I can only presume he’s capable of doing this, but didn’t want to try once he actually got the nomination.

    Also, hire a different campaign team and actually fire people if they screw up. People talked about how Romney was loyal to those who worked for him; well, they somehow deluded you so badly you didn’t feel the need for a concession speech. That means next time, fire people.

  16. anjin-san says:

    I’m in for Warren.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    Me too…but I don’t think she’ll run.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mitt Romney 2016: The Third Time’s The Charm?


    What a card this Mataconis guy is.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    ..he (Cuomo) won’t be the VP choice because they both reside in the same state

    Can’t Cuomo buy a cabin in Wyoming and declare it his residence, like various Cheneys?

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Doug stole Jeb’s slogan.

  21. JWH says:

    I lean left, but I really do like Mitt Romney, and I think that he’d be a good president. But I couldn’t vote for him in 2012, and I can’t vote for him in 2016. I feel like I can’t vote for any Republican, really. Sometime in the last two decades, the Republicans stopped being the conservative party and became the crazy party.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @JWH: I had similar feelings before the campaign. I didn’t want a GOP elected, but I wanted Romney nominated, just in case. I still thought he might be OK through much of the campaign, even though he lied like a rug and gave every appearance of having absorbed the crazy. It’s not so much that he lied, but that he gave every appearance of believing the lies, while still lying clumsily. The “proceed, Governor” incident and the failure to have a concession speech ready being the prime examples. Do we want a prez who managed his campaign that badly and was that divorced from reality? But the 47% stuff was a real window into his soul and dropped any remaining scales from my eyes.

    So no, he’d have been a terrible president, pandering to the base, enriching the rich, and cheerfully destroying the economy and the middle class in the process.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    Considering that Romney just barely got beyond “phoning it in” the last time around, I find it difficult to think he’d take another crack at the game. Also, what advantage would he have as a candidate over Chris Christie?

  24. LaMont says:

    Unlike Dewey, Stevenson, Nixon, and Reagan, Romney is not a professional politician. He may have served as Governor of Massachusetts and run for President twice, but he didn’t make his career in politics and even when he was on the campaign trail he never really struck me as someone who enjoyed the campaigning part of politics.

    This is very easy to understand about a person like Romney. Romney has always struck me as a person that only cares about titles. He is a very powerful man in his own right but his ambition is much bigger than just being extremely wealthy and all the benefits that come with that. Having the “Leader of the free world” title on his bucket list is something he would probably do anything for. He wants to serve as President but have no clue what it is to be a servant. Campaigns have a funny way of exposing that part of an individual. He’d at least have to be a decent actor and he couldn’t even do that. I recognize that almost, if not every person that run for President has to have this kind of ego. However, Romney’s ego is probably bigger than the average person. Just my opinion…

  25. Barry says:

    @wr: “Who is this man’s constituency? If he was just about screwing his fellow Ds, I’d say he’d appeal to all those “bipartisanship” junkies in the punditry. ”

    Even so, that’s a hard road for somebody to actually win the Democratic nomination. He’s made massive enemies in his home state, and hasn’t made friends elsewhere.