Will the third time be the charm for Mitt Romney?

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Awkward: Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney to meet privately in Utah.

Taking heart to the saying “third time’s the charm,” Mitt Romney has shaken up the nascent 2016 presidential race with his announcement that he may not be done seeking the presidency.SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney says one of the biggest challenges facing the country is climate change and that global solutions are needed to combat it.FILE – In this Jan. 16, 2015 file photo, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting aboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet privately this week in Utah, raising the possibility that the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns that would split the Republican establishment next year, two prominent party members said Wednesday night.

The electorate may be tired of Romney, but his persistence is somewhat presidential: A quarter of presidents ran unsuccessfully for the office at least once before winning. In a speech to an investment management conference Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, the Republican nominee for president in 2012 said that more needs to be done to deal with poverty in America. As he decides whether to run for president a third time, Romney has accepted an invitation to speak at Jacksonville University’s spring graduation in the key presidential battleground of Florida. Bush requested the meeting, which was planned before Romney’s announcement two weeks ago that he was considering a third run for presidency, according to an unidentified party member.

Taxes were too high, and so was spending, unless there was a war on – in which case Democrats would be appeased with domestic budget increases, a fair trade for even bigger increases in the military budget. He used his remarks to broaden a populist platform he first touched on last week that marks a sharp shift from the rhetoric of his first two campaigns. Convinced that Democrats’ obsession with income inequality has struck a legitimate nerve, establishment Republicans are working to respond in time for 2016. The seeds of a high-powered clash between Romney and Bush have spooked some allies, who worry the two could split the vote and give rise to a nominee outside the party establishment. While hitting familiar Republican points criticizing the size of the federal debt, Romney at times sounded like a Democrat, calling for President Barack Obama and other leaders in Washington to act on common liberal priorities such as climate change, poverty and education. “I’m one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that,” he said of climate change, charging that federal leaders have failed to enact global agreements needed to tackle the problem.

President Obama used his State of the Union address Tuesday to present a vision of a new “middle class economics.” Now that the economic crisis is behind us, he argued, America can more freely choose what kind of society to create. Romney spent little time talking about poverty, the middle class or climate change in a 2012 campaign in which opponents cast him as an out-of-touch millionaire.

But in public and private conversations in recent weeks he has focused on poverty, perhaps above all, a dramatic shift for the former private-equity executive. And that’s just what I did,'” Romney said with a chuckle. “I learned some lessons, too.” Romney had previously acknowledged that climate change is real, noting in his 2010 book that “human activity is a contributing factor.” But he questioned the extent to which man was contributing to the warming of the planet and said throughout his 2012 campaign that America shouldn’t spend significant resources combatting the problem — particularly with major polluters like China doing little. Though no one has come out and said it quite yet, the principle is powerfully clear: If our middle class is dependent for its existence on federal largesse, our economic system is broken, and our political system is corrupt.

But once you look at the candidates who received the nomination, lost the general election and ran again, the road back to the White House appears much tougher. The last person to lose as a nominee and then go on to win the presidency — or even to get his party’s nomination more than once – was Richard Nixon, who lost the election on a razor-thin margin in 1960 and then won triumphantly in 1968. Before the speech — tickets were sold to the public — Romney spoke to a private dinner of about 130 clients of Diversify Inc., the investment firm that sponsored the event.

Tyler Fagergren, a manager with the firm, said people asked Romney questions about the economy and investment but were not allowed to ask about a possible 2016 campaign. That instinct, also deeply conservative, has its roots in James Madison’s recognition that the purpose of deliberative institutions is to slow down the passions that run wild and free in democratic life – ensuring that they don’t issue forth in a rush of hasty, ill-conceived and contentious policies.

William Jennings Bryan was the Democratic nominee three times and never won; Adlai Stevenson got the Democratic nomination twice in the 1950s; Thomas Dewey was the unsuccessful Republican nominee in 1944 and 1948. So rather than pounding on Obama for his dream of a middle class that is an artifice of government policy, establishmentarian Republicans, instead, want to show that they can offer a positive agenda for lifting up those near the economic bottom. But all of these candidates share something Romney lacks: Their campaigns occurred before the advent of the current primary and caucus system for choosing a nominee. For the presidential field’s two top establishment Republicans, it’s hard to say whether the politics of prosperity promises an opportunity or a guarantee. Now, he’s used the slogan to name and define his new Political Action Committee. “We believe passionately that the Right to Rise,” its mission statement declares – “to move up the income ladder based on merit, hard work and earned success – is the central moral promise of American economic life.” Well.

As Peter Beinart explains at the Atlantic, the instincts and theories that define the right “don’t oppose good education, good health care and good jobs, of course. The Republicans have regularly nominated the guy who effectively came in second in the previous race — this happened with Reagan, Bush, Dole, McCain and Romney. (Romney technically came in third in 2008, but that was due to his early, post-Super Tuesday exit once he saw victory was out of reach.) This suggests that past candidates are helped by running a strong race, yet knowing enough to drop out and rally around the party’s standard-bearer once the nomination appears lost.

But they have long opposed calling them rights, for fear that doing so would undo the limitations on government power outlined at the nation’s founding.” On the other hand, as some Republicans are quick to point out, there’s another conservative tradition that presents the problem in a much different light. Abraham Lincoln, for instance, cast it in terms of our natural right to put ourselves to the kind of use that promotes prosperity – free from arbitrary, unjust and unwise overlordship.

There’s no clear reason for this discrepancy, although the fact that Republicans have been very interested in nominating their second-place finishers their second time around may be enough to get first-time losers to run again.

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