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.
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.