Why Would Mitt Romney Ever Want to Run for President Again?

The twice-failed presidential candidate tells donors he's thinking about making another run in 2016.

by Allie Conti
Jan 10 2015, 3:00pm

Because being chewed up and rejected by America twice apparently wasn't enough of a hint, Mitt Romney is thinking about running for president again. Or at least he's not not thinking about running for president. After denying for months that he would do it, the perennial candidate finally let it slip to donors in New York Friday that he's seriously considering a third White House campaign, and that he wouldn't mind if they told the Wall Street Journal.

This is a weird move for lots of reasons, the most obvious being that Romney is terrible at running for president. After his last campaign, Romney swore he wouldn't put us through it again. When the New York Times asked last January if he'd changed his mind, he emphatically replied: "Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no." Then his advisors started saying he might run, but that he definitely wouldn't if Jeb Bush got in the race. But Jeb wants to run, and now it seems Romney just can't let go.

Did this guy forget that we're not interested? Or maybe, like the guy at the party who accuses the host of buying her homemade cookies at the "local 7/11 bakery," he just doesn't get that no one likes him. Remember, this is same man who tied his family's dog to the roof of the car for a road trip. Not out of malice, but because he thought it made sense. Mitt Romney doesn't get a lot of things.

So why's he running? According to Romney's former national campaign finance chairman Spencer Zwick, it's because the former Massachusetts governor is "too much of a patriot." Zwick told the Washington Post Friday that Romney wouldn't "sit on the sidelines and concede the presidency to Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren when he knows that he can fix the country."

To be fair, Republican voters have been toying with their old flame Romney. Recent 2016 polls have shown the former nominee leading his potential 2016 rivals, although some of that probably has to do with the fact that voters know his name. But Romney faces a much tougher field than he did during the last Republican goat rodeo. And historically, the odds are against him: Losing presidential nominees rarely run another campaign, and when they do they almost always lose.

In reality, Friday's 2016 hint seems to have been a more about locking up his enormous donor base, a power move that could turn Romney into a Republican kingmaker if—or when—he decides not to run. If another candidate wants those rich dudes to sign a check, they'll have to go through Romney first.

It's an elaborate move aimed at avoiding the inevitable irrelevance that befalls all ex-presidential candidates. Romney himself put it best: "I have looked, by the way, at what happens to anybody in this country who loses as the nominee of their party," he says in Mitt, a documentary about his presidential campaign. They become a loser for life, all right? That's it. It's over."