Mitt Romney is making serious moves in the direction of another presidential run. Members of the media, if you're not pleased, you have no one to blame but yourselves -- after all, you're the folks who told us what a terrific job Romney did in the 2014 campaign:
* Mitt Romney: The man in demand on the campaign trail (CNN)
* Romney becomes political MVP on campaign trail (CBS)
* As Democrats avoid Obama, Romney is in demand on the midterm campaign trail (Washington Post)
* The Return of Romney: He has become the most effective Republican surrogate for the midterms, going 6-0 in contested primaries (National Journal)
* Romney Hits the Campaign Trail, Fuels Comeback Rumors: The former presidential candidate is a key surrogate for Republicans in the 2014 midterms (U.S. News)
You called it a comeback, so don't blame him if he doesn't want the comeback to end.
On the other hand, those stories were written because something was happening on the campaign trail. Why? Why was Romney getting such a good response from Republican voters? It's hard to imagine John Kerry as the top Democratic surrogate in the 2006 midterm campaign, or Al Gore as the top surrogate in 2002 (even though Gore won the popular vote in 2000). Why is this different? And why has Romney topped two recent 2016 polls of Republican voters?
I think Romney might actually be getting some benefit from losing in 2012. You have to remember how Republicans think -- they believe their candidates would triumph if skulduggery and outright deceit didn't intervene to elect Democrats. Those who don't believe that Obama won because of blatant voter fraud believe he won because the IRS challenged the tax-exempt status of tea party groups, or because he gave (or promised to give) large amounts of "free stuff" to voters who are "takers," or because media bias blatantly favors Democrats, or some combination of these things.
This helps make Romney not a loser but a martyr. And when he reemerged in 2014, that sent the message: Mitt is bloodied but unbowed. Republicans love that sort of thing.
Remember who remained standing almost to the end of the 2012 Republican primaries: not Jon Huntsman, who'd won most recent campaign for reelection as governor of Utah 78%-20%; not Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann, neither of whom had ever lost an election. No -- the last two guys standing against Romney were Newt Gingrich, who'd resigned in disgrace after the 1998 midterms, in which his party's all-impeachment-all-the-time strategy failed, and Rick Santorum, who'd lost his last election by 18 points. They, too, were martyrs, brought low by the evil genitals of Bill Clinton and the party Clinton led at the time.
Republicans have so much love for those who claim to have been felled by liberalism that I sometimes think Scott Walker would be doing better in the GOP polls right now if he'd lost the recall or his reelection bid. What could make him seem more of martyr?
This also suggests that Chris Christie, instead of acting as if Bridgegate never happened, should be talking about it relentlessly, depicting himself as someone the evil libs tried to crush because they fear him so much.
I know, I know: none of this works in a general election. But that's the problem Republicans have, at least in presidential years: they vote to express their anger, but the rest of us don't want an anger-driven candidate. Romney, for all his supposed Ward Cleaver blandness, is an anger-driven man. That may get him the nomination again. I doubt it will win him the White House.