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The Republicans’ best choice for 2016

By D. G. Martin
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2014

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Chapel Hill, NC - Romney for President.

Get used to the idea.

Again.

But, you say, Mitt Romney has made it clear that he is not interested in running again. He is a two-time loser, which makes him damaged property. And the far-right wing of the party was never happy with him as a candidate. And by the time he would first become president he would be 69 years old.

However, the super-conservatives in the party learned to live with Romney in 2012. If they think he has the best chance to beat a Democrat, they will work for him again.

And who are the competitors?

Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan.

Of these, only Bush and Christie have the solid mainstream images that could make them attractive to independents and Democratic crossover voters.

The others have strong conservative views that may inspire and mobilize the Republican base. However, those same views may be too far to the right to win over moderate and independent voters in the November election.

As for Bush and Christie, the pragmatic credentials and mainstream views that might make them competitive in a national election, turn off the Tea Party and other Republican conservative voters who dominate presidential primary elections in many states.

To win Republican primaries and the party nomination, Bush and Christie would have to walk the almost impossible tightrope of getting far enough to the right to win the nomination without getting so far to the right as to make it impossible to win in November.

This is the same tough challenge that Mitt Romney faced in 2012.

And he very nearly pulled it off.

Of course, he lost the election. Like every candidate, he made some bad mistakes. Some people like NBC’s David Gregory say Romney proved himself a “flawed candidate.” But losing an election does not necessarily make him flawed.

Generally, Romney was a solid candidate, one who developed a strong fundraising effort and a national team of loyal, hardworking supporters. He came very close to defeating a well-financed, well-organized campaign of an incumbent president.

Many hard right conservatives, who opposed him in the 2012 primaries, supported him in the general election. They came to admire him and like him.

Take for instance Ann Coulter, the hard-right commentator, who recently spoke of her hopes for Romney, “Well, don't tell him but I'm planning on giving Mitt Romney a little more time to rest -- flying out, kidnapping him and depriving him of sleep, food and water until he agrees to run again.”

Having demonstrated that he can lead a competitive presidential campaign and win the support of the hard right wing of this party, Romney brings to the Republicans assets that the other possible candidates can only envy.

After brutal scrutiny by media and opponents, all the possible downsides of his character and personal life have been publically examined. Amazingly, even those of us who disagree with his politics have to concede his personal and family life are admirable, marred only by a story of his dog riding on top of the family car and some negative side effects on others of his business operations.

What about the age factor? Romney, born in 1947, will be 69 when the new president takes office, about the same age as Ronald Reagan when he took office. Age might be a factor, but before Democrats make too much of it, they should remember that Hillary Clinton was also born in 1947.

Seventy is the new 50, which is how old Romney looks on a bad day.

I hope I am wrong. I hope Republicans pass him by. But if I were a Republican, I would be right there with Ann Coulter, helping with her persuasive tactics until he agrees to run again.
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D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

 
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