Jesus, what the hell was that all about?
Mitt Romney said Friday that he would not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.That's from the New York Times story on Romney's decision. So what was Romney doing in recent days? Why on earth did he dispatch an underling to whisper sweet nothings in Mark Halperin's ear so Halperin would produce this huge story on why Romney was totally planning to run (a story that, yes, I fell for)?
Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, shared his decision on a conference call with a small group of advisers.
In a second call to a larger group of supporters, Mr. Romney said, “After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee.”
Mr. Romney said he believed he could win the nomination, but he expressed concern about harming the party’s chances to retake the White House. “I did not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming the president,” he said.
He added that it was “unlikely” that he would change his mind.
How divorced from reality was the Halperin story? Halperin wrote:
In fact, at the senior staff level, Romney has been heartened that with the exception of lawyer Ben Ginsberg (who, also, has long standing ties to the Bushes), all other members have been actively encouraging Romney to run, most prominently his chief fundraiser Spencer Zwick.Now let's go to the Times:
In addition, although Romney has heard from many of his past bundlers that they are switching to Bush, the Romney camp is convinced he would easily retain a high enough percentage of them to be able to raise the tens of millions of dollars required to secure the nomination.
... some of Mr. Romney's former aides and donors have begun moving on to other candidates.All that happy talk, in Halperin's story and others, was Mitt's way of stroking the press so he'd be able to read that he absolutely should have won in 2012 and could certainly win in 2016, and in any event would be far and away the best person for the job. He believes that and he wanted to have that message reflected back to him -- and, obviously, he hoped he could persuade enough other people of his greatness to be a credible candidate again. These weeks of generating speculation were Mitt's Sunset Boulevard -- he's still big, it's the elections that got small! He's ready for his close-up, Mr. Murdoch!
In a more than four-hour meeting last week, Mr. Romney’s top staff members and trusted advisers from 2012 relayed a sobering reality -- they supported Mr. Romney and thought he would be the best president, but they did not necessarily encourage a third run.
One by one, loyal supporters talked about surveying their troops from 2012, and finding that the enthusiasm and support were just not there. Some Iowa precinct leaders were not coming back, and even in New Hampshire -- where Mr. Romney had won the primary -- the mood was described at best as “cautiously optimistic.” The situation with donors was also going to be an uphill climb.
It's sad. I thought he was going to go for it, but primarily as a salve to his very sensitive, easily wounded ego. Post-Nixon Republicans are supposed to be simple, direct men of action, unreflective and uncomplicated, but Romney has always seemed like a huge bundle of neuroses. And now I think everyone can see that that's true.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention my favorite line from the Times story:
He added that it was “unlikely” that he would change his mind.Oh, for crissake, Mitt. Just stop. We know this is killing you and you still want to leave the door open a teeny, tiny, crack, but it's closed, it's locked, and it's bolted. Nice knowing you. Now go away.