Stop Trying To Make Mitt Romney Happen

It's not going to happen.


Erick Erickson, who has been one of the leading voices of the “Never Trump” movement among conservative activists and some members of the Republican establishment, thinks its time for Mitt Romney to rise up and take on Donald Trump as a third-party candidate:

Not only does Erick Erickson want Mitt Romney to restart a search for a third-party candidate to challenge Donald Trump, he also wants Romney to consider being that person.

The conservative blogger wrote for The Resurgent on Friday that he would “gladly work for a Romney Presidency given the choices between” Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Trump.

Erickson, who has said he would never vote for Trump, opposed Romney during his previous presidential runs. On Wednesday, Yahoo News reported that Romney has ruled out an independent bid for president and is not trying to get any other Republicans to take up the mantle despite remaining hopeful for someone else to surface.

“I opposed Romney in 2008 and 2012, but I think the time has come for Mitt Romney,” Erickson wrote. “I can’t believe I’m even writing this. But seriously, Mitt Romney should run for President again and transcend party for the good of the country.”

Let’s leave aside the question of appealing to Mitt Romney for just a second, although we will return to that momentarily, to make clear the simple fact that it is quite simply too late for any candidate to launch an independent bid for the Presidency that would be anything other than a quixotic waste of time. First of all, as I’ve mentioned before, we’ve entered the period where deadlines for independent candidates to petition for ballot access are beginning to pass or fast approaching. The deadline for Texas, the largest cache of Electoral Votes that a Republican/conservative candidate can be assured of winning, for example, passed last week and other deadlines will start expiring in the coming weeks. Before long, it will be impossible for any independent candidate to get on the ballot in a sufficient number of states to even theoretically win 270 Electoral votes, at which point an independent run would be nothing but a waste of time. Second, it seems clear that the most that an independent candidate like Romney could be expected to do would be to make it even more likely that Hillary Clinton will win in November by making it easier for her to win in traditionally red states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Georgia, and conversely more difficult for Trump to win states that he needs to win in order to get to 270 Electoral Votes such as Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. Now, if you happen to be part of the “Never Trump” movement on the right, this isn’t a bad thing, but that’s hardly an inspiring message to build an already difficult third-party bid for the White House around. Finally, while there is some portion of the right that has dedicated itself to defeating Donald Trump in November, it’s not at all clear that this would appeal to most of the Republican base. Polling conducted since Trump won the Indiana Primary and effectively if not officially clinched the Republican nomination when the remainder of his opponents dropped out of the race has shown that, for better or worse, the majority of Republicans are lining up behind Donald Trump, at least for the moment. If that remains the case through Election Day, than a “Never Trump” independent candidate may not be as successful as Erickson and others seem to hope.

Even beyond the increasingly silly idea of an independent conservative bid for the White House, the fact that attention is once again turning to Mitt Romney is really rather extraordinary. Despite the fact that he failed to catch fire in 2008 while candidates such as John McCain and Mike Huckabee saw electoral success and the fact that he rather decisively lost a bid for the Presidency after winning the Republican nomination in 2012, Republican insiders, conservative pundits, and the national news media have turned to him numerous times over the course of the 2016 cycle as if he were some kind of Republican White Knight. More than a year before campaigning for 2016 began, Romney’s name was being mentioned as a potential 2016 candidate even though he would generally shoot down the idea rather effectively. Nonetheless, just based on what’s been written here at OTB, we can see that the idea of ‘Romney 2016’ has been the subject of speculation as far back as February 2014, and then again in April 2014 and September 2014, While Romney politely shot down this speculation each time it came up, it was revived again in January 2015 when it was reported that Romney was telling members of his old donor network that he was at least considering the idea of entering the 2016 race after all. After several weeks of speculation, Romney ultimately decided not to run, but that didn’t stop the speculation. As the end of 2015 approached and it appeared that stopping Donald Trump was not going to be as easy as some anticipated, there was another round of speculation that Romney would enter the race and take on Trump himself. While Romney did ultimately emerge to directly attack Trump in one of the blunter speeches he’s ever given, he also made it clear that he was not running for President. Despite all of that, Erickson, Bill Kristol, and others, were floating the idea of a Romney candidacy as late as this month.

On some level, the nostalgia for Romney is rather amazing given the fact that he was largely thrown under the bus after the 2012 elections. Notwithstanding the fact that it is actually quite hard to defeat a popular incumbent President during a time when the economy is in relatively good shape, the idea in Republican circles in the immediate aftermath of November 2012 was that Romney should have won the election and that he only lost because of his own mistakes, because he wasn’t conservative enough, or because he didn’t attack President Obama enough. Given that, the fact that the party keeps turning to him is really quite strange. As it stands, Romney seems content with the role he has now as something of a GOP elder statesman, and as Jazz Shaw puts it, maybe Republicans and the media just need to accept that already:

Mitt Romney is a busy guy these days. He still shows up for any number of public speaking events and keeps his hand in the political world, but he’s got plenty of other things going on. He’s involved in plenty of charitable causes, even if it means getting punched by Evander Holyfield. He really enjoys running, a habit he picked up from his father. And in his role as grandpa, he’s now up to 23 grandchildren to dote upon. At 69 years of age, after a lifetime of service in both the public and private sector, you’d think that he’s earned some time to relax, enjoy the fruits of his labors and generally enjoy life.


But can you leave poor Mitt alone?

No, apparently they can’t.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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. edmondo says:

    The conservative blogger wrote for The Resurgent on Friday that he would “gladly work for a Romney Presidency…

    Well, that’s two votes, his and Mitt’s. Anne is still undecided.

  2. Pch101 says:

    I can’t believe that I’m being forced to defend Erick Erickson, but it’s a positive trend for Republicans to actively discuss the idea of not voting for Trump. The specific idea of rallying behind Romney may not make much sense, but there should be some way to channel that anti-Trump energy.

  3. CSK says:

    The really hilarious thing would be if Trump picked Romney as his VP. Trump is considering Bob Corker, which has half the Trumpkins screeching about betrayal and the other half desperately trying to rationalize it.

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    Republicans 2012: Ugh, Romney is such a RINO wuss.

    Republicans 2016: OMG, can we have Mitt Romney again?!

    Be careful what you wish for, “true” conservatives.

  5. Most deadlines are in August and some are in September. The US Supreme Court already ruled that early petition deadlines for independent presidential candidates are unconstitutional. June deadlines have been struck down by lower courts in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Kansas, and South Dakota. In 1924, U.S. Senator Bob La Follette declared as an independent progressive for president on July 4, and he got on the ballot in 47 of the 48 states, and the one he missed, Louisiana, was not because of an early deadline. In 2000 the US filed a human rights violation against Azerbaijan because its new election law set a 6-month before the election filing deadline for new parties. Can’t we live up to our own principles of free elections? In Great Britain the filing deadline to run for House of Commons is 3 weeks before the election.

  6. MBunge says:

    Let’s remember that Erick Erickson is not anti-Trump because he thinks Trump would be terrible for the country. It’s because Trump is a threat to the stranglehold right wing jerks like Erickson have had on the GOP for decades. These people are not, by and large, being good citizens.


  7. al-Ameda says:

    Mitt Romney? I certainly differ. Clearly, Bill Clinton is where the action is now. A few days ago Trump called Bill a rapist, and added that Hillary enabled the rapist.

    Yes, the Fall campaign will be an unparalleled opportunity for Americans to discuss the issue we’re most concerned about – the ongoing twenty-five year investigation of the Clintons.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    There’s a better chance of Trump having a fatal heart attack between now and the election.

    Does anyone know what happens in that case?

  9. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    According to its own protocols, the RNC names a new candidate. Similar for the DNC.

    If the president-elect dies, the vice president-elect becomes the president-elect.

  10. Jim says:

    “Despite the fact that he failed to catch fire in 2008 while candidates such as John McCain and Mike Huckabee saw electoral success and the fact that he rather decisively lost a bid for the Presidency after winning the Republican nomination in 2012….”

    Mike Huckabee got fewer votes than Mitt Romney in 2008, so it’s blatantly false to say he was more successful. Just not true. Completely rewriting history.

    In addition, Romney did a better job in the general election in 2012 than John McCain did in 2008, receiving more electoral votes and popular votes, as both a grand total and as a percentage. The final popular vote was 51%-47%; I wouldn’t call that decisively losing, but if you want to because of the Electoral College totals, you’re entitled to your wrong opinion.

  11. PJ says:

    @Richard Winger:

    In Great Britain the filing deadline to run for House of Commons is 3 weeks before the election.

    The UK has very short campaigns, so the filing deadline could be only about ten days after the prime minister has called for a new election (i.e. the prime minister may call an election a month ahead.) It also heavily regulate election ads and limits election spending…

    Things one can dream about.

  12. MBunge says:

    @Jim: it’s blatantly false to say he was more successful

    Huckabee was more successful if you look at the ratio of money spent vs votes won in the GOP primary. I believe Romney massively outspent the rest of the field combined.

    But you are correct that Romney actually did better than people remember, especially for being a fairly bad candidate who was running against an incumbent President.


  13. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Richard Winger:

    Can’t we live up to our own principles of free elections?

    It seems to depend on who wants to run. (And who wants to elect them.)

  14. Michael Cain says:

    Notwithstanding the fact that it is actually quite hard to defeat a popular incumbent President…

    To paraphrase an old political joke: “How can he be popular? Everyone I know hates him.”

  15. stonetools says:

    The Romney movement just shows the complete desperation of the conservative movement. The “deepest, most talented Republican field” began campaigning for the Presidency in the fall of 2015-and an unqualified businessman turned TV star mopped the floor with them, simply by appealing to the worst instincts of the base-instincts cultivated and inflamed by years , if not decades of Republican pandering to racial, ethnic and sexual bigotry.Now they want to reach out to the guy who wasn’t conservative enough for the true believers in 2016, merely because that guy became good at pretending to be “severely conservative” in 2016.
    Sorry guys , the “true conservatism” moment has passed in American politics. The base no longer believes in the economic conservative gospel of free trade, tax cuts for the rich, and unregulated free markets any more.Even they have figured out it’s a con that doesn’t work. They’ve also largely conceded on social conservatism. They have found that they just don’t give a d@mn about gays marrying, serving in the military , or sharing bathrooms. They still care a lot about abortion , but that’s about it for social conservatism.
    What’s left is an appeal to white supremacy, and that’s the main engine of conservatism at this point. Romney, to his credit, has never been about that, which is why he can’t compete with Trump for the allegiance of the conservative base this year.

  16. Pch101 says:


    Erick Erickson is more of a Tea Party wingnut with a penchant for nastiness than an establishment Republican.

    Most Republicans who participated in the primaries didn’t vote for Trump. The GOP coalition is fraying at the edges; the various factions are now trying to each get their way, which is simply impossible.

    Trump certainly speaks for a lot of Republicans, but not for most of them. Whether or not a significant number of his opponents within the party will ultimately opt to stay home, cross party lines or opt for a third-party candidate remains to be seen.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @Pch101: I wonder how many people will end up voting for Trump on a feeling of “who cares if he totally trashes the place, anything is better than this continued rule-by-the elites!”

    Lord knows I’ve had this reaction myself: the American people are too gullible to know when they’re being lied to; let’s give them the chaos they want!

    But then I realize–bringing the entire house down on us (the Samson gambit) doesn’t really solve anything, does it? But it may be the only way the American populace learns anything.

    I suspect that if Trump gets in it will make what Brownback has done to Kansas look like a cakewalk. And the idiots in Kansas are STILL supporting Brownback and his financially incompetent branch of the Republican Party. As one of the commentators said: “People in Kansas would vote for the Devil, provided he had an “R” next to his name.”

    So I guess at some point we’re going to have to let stupidity win and hope we survive it.

  18. Pch101 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Trump can’t win an election strictly by appealing to the burn-it-down crowd; there aren’t enough of them.

    For Trump to win, he would also need to appeal to swing voters and those Republicans who prefer him as the lesser of two evils. We’ll have to see whether there are enough of them to matter.

  19. Ratufa says:


    Trump can’t win an election strictly by appealing to the burn-it-down crowd; there aren’t enough of them.

    Not all of the burn-it-down crowd are Republicans. There’ll be some number of normally Democratic voters who won’t want to vote for Hillary, either because they are angry Sanders supporters, or because they they think Hillary is too much of a corporate/military tool, or because they think a loss might teach the party a lesson, never mind the consequences of a Trump Presidency.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101: I will not give NeverTrumpers one ounce of “credit” if they oppose him for all the wrong reasons. I went back to read Erickson’s February essay on why he’d never vote for Trump. Is it because he’s a racist, sexist boor? A pathological liar and hatemonger? An undisciplined, erratic clown who lacks the kind of skills needed to deal diplomatically with foreign leaders, not to mention the many other basic jobs of the presidency?

    If you said “yes” to any of the above, you’re more naive than I thought. His entire objection to Trump is that he’s a pro-abortion baby killer:

    Donald Trump believes the federal government should fund Planned Parenthood. Donald Trump believes there are good things the child killers do…. If Trump were elected President, there would be members of the pro-life movement who would compromise their convictions for access to power.

    Erickson goes on for several paragraphs of this before finally getting around to noting that Trump “preys on nationalistic, tribal tendencies and has an army of white supremacists online as his loudest cheerleaders.” He doesn’t get any more specific, and earlier in the same sentence he refers to Trump as a “pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative.”

    So the real reason to oppose Trump isn’t that he’s a dangerous, bigoted demagogue, but because he’s a fake conservative.

    Imagine that Louis Farrakhan were to somehow win the Democratic nomination, and a group of Democrats vowed not to support him, not because he’s a crazy anti-Semite but because he’s “not a true progressive.”

    That’s exactly what the NeverTrump movement is like, and it shows how far the GOP has sunk. It’s bad enough that they nominated such a candidate, but even those Republicans horrified at the development can’t even articulate the biggest and most obvious things wrong with him, and insist on treating the disaster simply as a loss for ideological purity.

  21. Barry says:

    @Richard Winger: “Can’t we live up to our own principles of free elections? ”

    As a matter of fact and SCOTUS slime, no.

  22. Barry says:


  23. Jeremy says:

    @Kylopod: Fortunately, that’s just Erickson. Many other conservative and Republican commentators on the #NeverTrump train do actually criticize Trump for just the reasons you mention at the top.

  24. Pch101 says:


    Er, when I described Erickson as a “Tea Party wingnut with a penchant for nastiness,” it wasn’t a compliment.

    You do a lot of typing, but your reading comprehension is often lacking.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Jeremy: It’s still depressingly common among the NeverTrumpers. Earlier this month Lindsay Graham tweeted that he “cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative.” Senator Ben Sasse, in his much-vaunted “open letter” on Facebook, argued essentially that Republicans should oppose Trump because he’s just like President Obama:

    Much like President Obama, he displays essentially no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances, with three separate but co-equal branches of government. And the task of public officials is to be public “servants.” The law is king, and the people are boss. But have you noticed how Mr. Trump uses the word “Reign” – like he thinks he’s running for King? It’s creepy, actually. Nebraskans are not looking for a king. We yearn instead for the recovery of a Constitutional Republic.

    In the entire post, no mention is made of Trump’s racism or sexism or really any actual policy differences beyond vague references to Trump’s authoritarian tendencies likened to Obama’s executive orders.

    Even Mitt Romney’s big speech against Trump from last month, while it does eventually get around to attacking Trump’s proposals against Muslims and his sexist remarks about Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina, these come very late in his speech and are dealt with briefly; most of the speech is a critique of Trump’s economic policies (with no small amount of hypocrisy since many of Romney’s criticisms could apply equally to other Republicans, including himself).

    To return to my analogy of Farrakhan as the Democratic nominee, it’s as if a few Democrats were to go on for pages and pages about the fact that Farrakhan opposes abortion rights before getting around to a sentence or two about his rhetoric and, uh, Jews. If you’re going to argue that a candidate is uniquely terrible, then to cast him as simply being like a candidate from the other party is to normalize him.

    It’s entirely typical for some hardcore partisans to think their candidate isn’t a “real” member of their party. Many leftists think Hillary is a corporate crony neoliberal neocon, or something. Many conservatives called Romney a RINO. If that’s going to be the NeverTrumpers’ main or entire critique of Trump, it’s no wonder they haven’t gotten any traction. Of course many of them know perfectly well that Trump is terrible for other reasons, but they can’t say it outright, or at least they can’t do it without simultaneously lobbing grenades in Hillary’s and/or Obama’s direction. Their attacks are bound to seem weak because they are incapable of speaking straight about what’s staring in front of them.

  26. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:


    Most Republicans who participated in the primaries didn’t vote for Trump.

    Mark Levin keeps harping on this point, but while it is true, it is also true that most Republicans also didn’t vote for Cruz or Kasich or Rubio or JEB or Christie or … and that they didn’t vote for those guys even more often than they didn’t vote for Trump.

    More importantly, most Republicans didn’t vote for any one who was running as not Trump, because the candidates mostly ran as “better at Trump than Trump himself.” The fact that most
    voters didn’t vote for Trump is largely moot.

  27. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    The point is that the GOP coalition appears to be falling apart, which should be a welcome development.

  28. Meh, Brangelina didn’t miss much in forgoing intra-Europe business class. “It was on the second leg of their journey that the Jolie-Pitts were seen blending in with their fellow passengers on the aircraft.” It might have been a story if they’d flown TATL in coach.