Inside the Beltway: Romney is the ‘parking lot’ for GOP voters

It is news that should secretly please Mitt Romney, a man who insists he won’t ever run again for president, and so there. Some voters, however, have not forgotten him, and Mitt nostalgia lingers.

If Romney were to run, he currently holds a lead in the New Hampshire Republican primary, with 25 percent of the vote,” reports the Purple Poll, a targeted political survey that focuses on the 12 battleground states most likely to determine the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

“While Romney says he is not likely to run, it is instructive to note that he continues to cast a shadow over the primary at this early stage. He serves as a convenient ‘parking lot’ for Republican voters who are waiting for other candidates to develop,” the poll notes.

“It’s a wide open field as voters look for a candidate of stature,” pollster Doug Usher tells Inside the Beltway. “Still, this is a surprising level of support, and I don’t think we give voters enough credit. They remember Romney the man during 2012, not all the Republican infighting.” The poll of 1,052 likely voters was conducted Jan. 21-23.

“Of non-Romney candidates, Rand Paul has 18 percent of the vote, essentially tied with Chris Christie (17 percent), with Jeb Bush receiving 13 percent. Ted Cruz (7 percent) and Bobby Jindal (5 percent) round out the GOP candidates,” the analysis notes.

And about the ever-elusive Scott Brown, who may or may not run for the U.S. Senate seat in the Granite State against Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Though still undeclared, Mr. Brown is faring well in this early poll. The two are tied, each holding 44 percent of the vote.

“This indicates substantial vulnerability for the Democratic incumbent,” the analysis says, citing the fact that Mr. Brown has an edge among independents, 48 percent to Mrs. Shaheen’s 39 percent.

THE PRIEBUS TACTICAL MOMENT

The oft steel-clad Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus won his quest for an apology from MSNBC after the network issued a most unfortunate tweet suggesting that the “rightwing” would hate a bi-racial family in a new Cheerios ad. Mr. Priebus, who told GOP staffers to boycott the network, got his apology Thursday directly from network CEO Phil Griffin. So case closed? No. An intricate tactical discussion goes on.

“Here’s the problem. First, MSNBC’s offensive tweet didn’t target Republicans, but ‘the rightwing.’ Second, by inserting himself (and the RNC) into the discussion, Priebus risks changing the narrative, which was skewing decidedly against MSNBC,” says Daily Caller senior contributor Matt Lewis.

“Another thing I don’t like about this is the fact that it involves boycotting the network and demanding an apology — two tools straight out of the liberal playbook,” he adds.

But Mr. Priebus was “absolutely correct” in demanding an apology, counters Mediaite analyst Joe Concha, who adds, “As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity except for your own obituary. But if Griffin keeps allowing this behavior to define his network, the only obituary anyone will be talking about will be the one regarding his career.”

O’REILLY TRUMPS COLBERT

Alright, so it’s a very moot exercise.

But a survey of registered voters by Public Policy Polling finds that if Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert were both candidates for president in 2016, then Mr. O’Reilly would win, 38 percent to 35 percent. A quarter of those polled were unsure who the victor would be, but 38 percent said the comic had better hair than the pundit. Mr. O’Reilly only received 11 percent of the hair vote.

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