Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the mainstream Republican Party’s idea of a savior in 2016, if only the GOP would have felt this way in 2012. This week Republican Party officials have started discussions on the possibility of a brokered convention in order to get rid of controversial frontrunner Donald Trump or to find a nominee if none in the GOP field reaches a majority of delegates. With the huge field, the party has only one candidate they feel they can unite the party and win against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the general election, Romney. The problem with their plans, Romney is unwilling to participate. Romney again declared he will not run for president in 2016 at a rally at Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 where he officially endorsed Sen. John McCain’s reelection campaign for his Arizona Senate seat.
After endorsing fellow former Republican presidential nominee from 2008 John McCain, Romney clarified again he is not planning to run for president. Commenting on the talk of a brokered convention, Romney said, “Please let me know who’s doing that and I’ll have a word with them. I’m not running.” The former nominee listed a number of the candidates he thinks would be viable nominees, “There are a number of people who I support, who I think would be terrific presidents, whether it’s Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham or Carly Fiorina. The list goes on and on. … We’re going to see how the process works out and I expect that we’re going to be very happy.”
Ever since Trump announced his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States as a solution to combat terrorism when he becomes president, the talk of a brokered convention has gone into overdrive. Several media outlets have been profiling the speculation. The Republican “power brokers” met this past week to discuss what the party would do if none of the large GOP field wins a majority of the delegates in the primaries or if none of the candidates receive a majority of the delegates from eight different states another requirement to clinch the nomination.
Another major concern is Trump and the possibility he would win enough primaries. Trump’s anti-Muslim plans received condemnation from Republicans, Democrats, the White House and even world leaders. A Trump nomination would harm the party and might even lead to Hillary Clinton easily winning the White House. Some theories going around are that Trump’s action have been done to easily hand Clinton the presidency as they used to be friends, Trump’s ego and definitive desire for power should be enough to discredit such theorizing.
The Washington Post first reported the meeting of GOP party leaders on Dec. 10, saying that over 20 officials and GOP leaders met on Monday at a dinner hosted by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY was also in attendance. The Washington Post recounted based on “people familiar with the meeting,” that “Several longtime Republican power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative.”
The GOP officials were planning the strategy to deal with the first “brokered convention in six decades,” when in 1952 Democratic convention Adlai Stevenson was chosen as the nominee on the third ballot. The last Republican convention were there was no clear nominee at the start was 1976 with then President Gerald Ford and former California Governor Ronald Reagan, still Ford won on the first ballot. Delegates are bound to vote for the candidates who won the delegates in the primary only for the first ballot after that they are free that is when the deal making and “jockeying for delegates” begin.
When confronted on the nature of the dinner, “RNC’s chief strategist and spokesman” Sean Spicer explained, “The RNC is neutral in this process, and the rules are set until the convention begins next July. Our goal is to ensure a successful nomination, and that requires us thinking through every scenario, including a contested convention.”
Although Trump is leading most polls nationally and in the primary states, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has an additional advantage he is qualified to be on the ballot of more states than any other candidate; 40 in all. Cruz is also beating Trump in the crucial first nominating state of Iowa. Even the Democratic Party thinks Cruz could win the nomination and might even be hoping for that. The mainstream GOP almost equally opposes a Cruz nomination. There is backlash to the possibility of a brokered convention with Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson saying they would bolt the party with Trump considering a third party run.
With all this speculation and possible planning for the journalist’s dream of a brokered convention, the compromise candidate the GOP wants would be Mitt Romney. McKay Coppins, the author of “The Wilderness: Deep Inside the Republican Party’s Combative, Contentious, Chaotic Quest to Take Back the White House” (2015) writes in a Buzzfeed article from Dec. 11, that “a small group of wealthy donors and die-hard loyalists close to Mitt Romney will be ready with a strategy to win him the nomination from the convention floor.”
When Romney made his decision not to run back in January his supporters “urged him not to shut the door.” They told him “it would be a mistake to take himself entirely out of the running.” Coppins wrote that Romney supporters saw the possibility of a brokered convention” in that case “facing a televised descent into disarray, the GOP delegates would naturally turn to Romney – the fully vetted, steady handed Republican statesman – for salvation.” They begged him “Your Party might still need you… The country might still need you.” This prompted Romney to carefully craft his statement, writing, “I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again, if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind, that seem unlikely.”
The word “unlikely” gave a glimmer of hope, but since then Romney has repeatedly shut the door on the possibility. Even Coppins thinks the prospect that the convention would succumb to drafting Romney to be low, particularly because of Romney’s reluctance. It would also be difficult for him to garner majority support from eight different states just based on Mormon support alone. Romney chose not to run because he thought he could not beat Clinton, and because he lost in 2012. Still Coppins says, “Romney loyalists say all bets will be off if the first ballot vote at next year’s convention fails to produce a nominee, arguing their candidate’s sense of duty will ultimately win out.”
Romney first announced his decision not to run on Jan. 30, 2015 in two conference calls to advisors and supporters saying that he has decided against a third run for president. The New York Times was the first to report about Romney’s decision. Romney released a more formal statement in a second conference to a large group of supporters, announcing; “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.” Conservative Radio host Hugh Hewitt released this statement through his Twitter account; Romney’s aides confirmed the decision.
Romney decided against a run even though he won every poll for four months prior to his decision. Since his announcement, the former GOP nominee has stayed in the limelight making TV appearances prompting the media and desperate Republicans to keep asking him to reconsider. Just in a Nov. 16, NBC the Today show appearance Romney was asked the same question, to which he responded, “I’m not running, I’m not planning on running.” Explaining why he keeps commenting on the issues Romney explained, “When you lose, it doesn’t mean you stop caring.” The Republican Nation Convention will be held July 18-21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quickens Loan Arena.