Here’s Why Republicans Need Mitt Romney to Run for President

Photo by: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Jewel Samada/AFP/Getty Images

The 2016 presidential election is rearing its Hydra-like head, but some faces are starting to take more precedence than others. What’s more, as the New Year passes and Washington makes some headway into 2015, candidates are likely to begin officially announcing their intentions for the coming election. Hillary Clinton has indicated her decision will come post-January 1. Others, like Mitt Romney, have already said they don’t plan to run, but whether or not they’re believed is another question.

I take Mitt at his absolute word. He’s not running,” said Romney’s former political adviser Ron Kaufman, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Still, some won’t believe he’s out of the race until other announcements start to come through.

“I’m not running, I’m not planning on running and I’ve got nothing new on that story,” said Romney according to USA TODAY. “I think Jeb is an excellent person, could be a terrific president,” he said when asked if he’d run if no other Republican candidate could get the job done. “I think that about a lot of the people who are running on the Republican side,” he said, “My guess is [that] you’re going to see 15 or so people on the stage at the first debate. I don’t know who they’re all going to be at this stage, [but] among those people we’re going to find someone who catches fire, who ignites the interests of the Republican base, and you’re gonna see someone who can go on to become president.”

Ann Romney also spoke on the possibility of her husband taking another shot at the presidency, and her words were perhaps even more convincing than Mitt’s. “We’ve moved on,” she said, “we’re not doing that again. It’s a no.” In the same interview with ABC, she joked that even one of her own children had read the rumors in the news and called to ask. When asked about possible contenders she was hopeful for, she listed a string of female politicians she respected and would be rooting for, including Gov. Susana Martinez (R-N.M.) and Gov. Nicki Halley (R-S.C.).

From Romney’s rhetoric and especially that of his family, it would be quite surprising to see Romney pull a 360 — yet given the polls, it’s hard not to think he perhaps should, if only for the sake of his party. Based on a recent poll of 1,001 U.S. adults of voting age — with a maximum margin of error at 3.1% — from Bloomberg politics, we have a better idea of where candidates may fall in the public eye when compared to each other when the time comes. One thing is clear though — if Romney doesn’t run, the Republican party is going to have a hard time contending with Hillary Clinton’s popularity.

Clinton leads former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), 2012 candidate Mitt Romney (R), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Vice President Joe Biden with net favorability ratings at 52%. She may be leading the group in net positive ratings, but she also drew the highest percentage of “very unfavorable” ratings as well, at 26% over the second highest unfavorability rating of 23% for Biden (who has the disadvantage of being tied to the Obama Administration).

With Clinton the clear contender to beat, Bloomberg pollsters compared people’s preference of her over a variety of other Republican candidates, reiterating just how much the Democratic playing field will change if Clinton should choose to stay out of the race next year. By a not-so-narrow margin, Clinton beat each candidate, from Bush and Christie, to Cruz and Paul; even Romney sat at 39% compared to Clinton’s 45%. Given the unlikelihood that Romney will run, perhaps the second most competitive candidate — according to Bloomberg — on the Republican side is Chris Christie, with the third highest net favorability rating at 36%.

However, RealClearPolitics puts Bush ahead of Christie by 5.8 percentage points. Looked at individually, the polls RCP averaged all put Bush ahead of Christie as well, including CNN/ORC, ABC/Washington Post, McClatchy/Marist, Quinnipiac, and Rasmussen Reports. The CNN/ORC poll gave Bush a full 10 percentage point lead over Christie.

Yet Romney was the real winner in many of these polls, including Quinnipiac University, ABC, CNN, and McClatchy. ABC’s poll, conducted by Langer Research, found that “if Romney were to run again … Bush would slip to the next tier. When included in the mix, Romney has 21% support, vs. 10% for Bush, 9% for Paul, and 8% for Ryan.” While Bush is in the lead for ABC’s poll should Romney not run — as seems likely at this point — Langer Research notes that it’s “not by a meaningful margin.”

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