- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2014

He just looks presidential, all confident and centered amid national turmoil, ramped up by incessant media coverage. Yeah, well. That’s the Mitt Romney brand. He appears in public as a consistently reassuring presence, campaigning for assorted Republican hopefuls with ease, cheerfulness and focus. Could his calm, sure demeanor be rooted in political ambition — or the knowledge that he’s never, ever, ever going to run for the White House again? Mr. Romney has gone on major news broadcasts more than a dozen times this year to insist that a 2016 aspirations were not on the radar.

But never say “never.” Many Americans are not quite ready to let him go, and while it is an unofficial grass-roots entity, Draft Mitt — organized by a group of Utah Republicans — enjoys sustained interest from the public. Over 118,000 fans have signed the public petition entreating Mr. Romney to consider running in 2016.

“There are so many people who have worked hard to maintain the DraftMitt.org site, and the public will not let it go. But we don’t want to get in Governor Romney’s way. Let me give you an example of why it’s nearly impossible for us to stop,” James M. Evans tells Inside the Beltway. He is chairman of the Utah Republican Party, and the pointman behind the effort.

“When we look at Iraq today and see countless Christians being murdered we know that ‘President Romney‘ would not let that happen, and we look to ourselves and say this could have been avoided if more Republicans would have voted,” Mr. Evans says. “The Draft Mitt movement is a national discussion that’s more about how America got it wrong in 2012 and how America would be much better off under a Romney administration. We want Mitt to run again, but it is ultimately up to him.”

Only last month, fellow Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz took to MSNBC to underscore his belief that Mr. Romney would emerge a candidate.

“I think he actually is going to run for president. He probably doesn’t want me to say that. A hundred times he says he’s not, but Mitt Romney has always accomplished what he’s set out to do. I think he’s proven right on a lot of stuff. I happen to be in the camp that thinks he’s actually going to run, and I think he will be the next president of the United States,” the lawmaker said.


SEE ALSO: Obama claims victory in Iraq, but holds fast to limits of U.S. mission


It is interesting, too, that Mr. Romney’s old 2012 campaign site is still operational, with an active point of contact, and showcasing a single quote from the former governor: “I still believe in the people of America. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for this great nation.”

MR. ROMNEY‘S DENIAL OF THE DAY

“It’s nice to be out campaigning for other people. It’s easier, and a lot less pressure,” Mr. Romney told a small crowd at a local Miami bakery Monday, where he campaigned for U.S. House hopeful Carlos Curbelo and served some Key Lime cupcakes — attired in jeans, a white cotton shirt and his signature grin. And of course someone asked him about a presidential run.

“No, I’m not doing that,” a terse Mr. Romney replied.

Tuesday found him in Beckley, West Virginia, campaigning at a “Working for West Virginia” rally for a trio of “pro-coal” Republicans — Shelley Moore Capito, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins — who could edge the Democratic state right if they won their bouts. Then it was on to North Carolina, where Mr. Romney supplied the star-power for an evening fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis in Charlotte.

His presidential mien was very much in evidence, though Mr. Romney appears to prefer a title often bestowed on President Obama: Campaigner-in-chief. Indeed, that gravitas can serve to soothe jittery Republicans. His next stops: New Jersey, Colorado and Virginia.

INSIGHT FROM MISSOURI

“I’d ask you not to glamorize their activities.”

— Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson to assembled journalists, regarding their news coverage of some protesters in Ferguson.

FOR THE LEXICON

“It’s like looting tourism. It’s like they are spending their gas money to come down here and steal.”

— An unnamed Missouri law enforcement officer on the behavior of some protesters in Ferguson, to The Washington Post.

THE DIVERSITY OF DEMOCRATS

As the GOP delicately explores “big tent” thinking that could expand its voter base, the plans for an official Democratic summer meeting show that the Party is strategically organized in the diversity department.

The Democratic National Committee and the Association of State Democratic Chairs will gather Thursday in Atlanta for three days of official summer meetings and a general session with Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other local elected officials.

And here are the Democrats who will be there, in order of their scheduled appearances: Native American Council, Ethnic Coordinating Council, Small Business Council, Rural Council, Youth Council, Seniors Coordinating Council, Veterans and Military Families Council, LGBT Caucus, Eastern Caucus, Midwestern Caucus, Southern Caucus, Western Caucus, Women’s Caucus, Labor Council, Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus, Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus.

A RON PAUL MOMENT

“The Founders knew there can be no freedom without the ability to defend it. So they included the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution as a bulwark against government tyranny. In honor of our Second Amendment freedoms, I’m pleased to announce that Campaign for Liberty is giving away a brand new Weatherby Vanguard Winchester model .308 rifle equipped with a scope.”

— A message from Ron Paul on behalf of his nonprofit activist group Tuesday; the contest continues until Aug. 31.

INSIGHT FROM ELSEWHERE

If you want Earthlings to look, then just mention alien life. NASA is deft in alluding to such things without compromising its credibility as both federal agency and scientific research hub. There is evidence of that Wednesday, when NASA airs a live discussion about “Ancient Earth and Habitable Planets” from its headquarters in the nation’s capital, complete with a half dozen hotshots from space and earth sciences — including astrobiology, which NASA itself describes as “the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.”

Things get underway online at 5:30 p.m. ET at NASA.gov/nasatv.

POLL DU JOUR

• 54 percent of Americans approve of U.S. airstrikes against militant targets in Iraq; 71 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents agree.

• 31 percent disapprove of the airstrikes; 14 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independents agree.

• 51 percent overall say they are worried the U.S. will get “too far involved” in the situation; 34 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents agree.

• 32 percent worry that the U.S. “will not go far enough” to stop the militants; 57 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents agree.

• 44 percent overall say the U.S. has a “responsibility” to do something about Iraq violence; 61 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 14-17.

Huzzahs, nervous laughter to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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