The two men who formed the 2012 Republican presidential ticket both made decisions this week about whether to launch presidential campaigns in 2016. On Monday, Paul Ryan, the candidate for vice president in 2012, made an announcement about his intentions for 2016. At about the same time, word began to leak out about Mitt Romney’s intentions. The men seem to have reached different conclusions about what paths they would take in 2016.
On Monday, in an interview with NBC News, Rep. Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he feels that he can make a “bigger difference” in his role as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee than as one of many Republican candidates in what will likely be a crowded field.
“It is amazing the amount of encouragement I have gotten from people – from friends and supporters,” Ryan said, “but I feel like I am in a position to make a big difference where I am and I want to do that.”
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Early this week, it became known that Mitt Romney had met with a group of potential donors in New York last Friday. The Washington Post reports that, although there has been no formal announcement, Romney is working to reassemble his political network. He reportedly told a senior Republican that he “almost certainly will” run for president in 2016.
The Post reports that Romney has discussed his intentions with Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former senator Scott Brown, and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. Romney also reportedly spoke with Paul Ryan, who was supportive of his candidacy.
Romney is reportedly planning to run to the right of Jeb Bush, who has already announced his candidacy. Romney and Bush tend to attract supporters from the same elements of the party and would likely compete for potential donors.
A third Romney candidacy would have pros and cons. Romney is not popular among some factions of the GOP, who blame his 2012 loss on not being conservative enough. An enduring myth among some conservatives is the belief that many conservative voters stayed home rather than vote for Romney. As Examiner discovered, Romney actually did well among conservative voters, but lost the election when he lost moderates and independents, many of whom made up their minds to vote for Obama after his response to Hurricane Sandy. A poor showing among minorities also hurt Romney.
Romney would have the advantage of experience and name recognition. After two presidential campaigns, almost every voter in the country knows who Mitt Romney is. Many also like him. A CNN poll from July 2014 showed that he would handily beat Obama if the election had been held then. The same poll showed him trailing Hillary Clinton.
Romney also has the benefit of learning from his past mistakes. His business career was built on correcting mistakes and transferring this ability to politics could mean that the third time is the charm. Early reports are that his new campaign will be very different, with Romney taking a more direct role on messaging rather than taking advice from consultants, according to Politico. The Washington Post reports that the theme of the campaign will be economic empowerment.
The theme and tone of the campaign would need to incorporate real changes to win support of many conservatives for whom Romney is associated with failure and waffling on the issues. In the past, some Republicans doubted Romney’s sincerity on core issues such as Obamacare, guns, and life.
What about the possibility of a Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan 2016 ticket? Neither man specifically addressed the issue, and Ryan also did not rule out a future campaign for president. Speaking to NBC, Ryan said that he will do his best to help the eventual Republican nominee, whoever that might be.
“It’s clear the country needs a change in direction and our party has a responsibility to offer a real alternative,” Ryan said.
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