- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It is a rare occurrence, but some authentic polling numbers reveal that Republican voters miss Mitt Romney, even as he earns some newfound public appreciation for his canny prediction that Russia could prove a viable threat to the U.S. Those warnings were made two years ago. None of this will please Mr. Romney’s campaign-weary wife Ann, and it likely will vex the burgeoning roster of GOP hopefuls, which now numbers around two dozen.

“Third time a charm for Mitt Romney?” asks the jaunty text in a New England College survey of 350 likely New Hampshire Republican voters released Tuesday.

“The GOP field in the 2016 campaign for president is filled with plenty of choices and no clear leader Our most recent poll reserved a slot for the former Massachusetts governor. And what do you know?”

The survey found that Mr. Romney was in the lead with 22 percent of the vote, followed by Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, at 16 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in third at 13 percent.

“This race is wide open and for now, it looks like the only thing that really shakes up the race is the presence of Mitt Romney as an option for voters,” says poll director Ben Tafoya.

The rest of the findings: Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, is in fourth place with 10 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, each took 7 percent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker earned 5 percent, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal 3 percent, and Rick Santorum received 2 percent.

Mr. Romney’s support consistently “cuts across all ideological sides” and “across the board, the poll found. One other survey broached the persistence of Romney appeal. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released four months ago revealed that among registered voters, Mr. Romney bested President Obama in a theoretical rematch, 49 percent to 47 percent.

“These numbers are interesting,” one GOP analyst tells Inside the Beltway. “But they also suggest that at this point, voters know Romney better than the other hopefuls, which should prompt those guys to get serious about defining their message.”

BUMPER PATROL

“Don’t steal, the government hates competition”

— Bumper sticker spotted by Inside the Beltway reader Michael Taranto in Plymouth, Mass.

STICK A FORK IN THE BUDGET

Yes, President Obama’s big fat fiscal year 2015 budget is finally done. Now it’s time for critics to stick a fork in it.

“The president has just three years left in his administration, and yet he seems determined to do nothing about our fiscal challenges. This budget isn’t a serious document; it’s a campaign brochure. In divided government, we need leadership and collaboration. And in this budget, we have neither,” declares Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee.

“This budget never balances — ever,” declares Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican, who reports that Mr. Obama’s budget increases spending by $791 billion over the budget window — and by $56 billion above the Bipartisan Budget Act levels in 2015 alone.

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