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Tilting at Windmills

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December 8, 2008

MORE MITTSTER.... We may yet have more Mitt Romney to kick around.

Republican Mitt Romney is laying the groundwork for a possible White House campaign in 2012, hiring a team of staff members and consultants with money from a fund-raising committee he established with the ostensible purpose of supporting other GOP candidates.

The former Massachusetts governor has raised $2.1 million for his Free and Strong America political action committee. But only 12 percent of the money has been spent distributing checks to Romney's fellow Republicans around the country.

Instead, the largest chunk of the money has gone to support Romney's political ambitions, paying for salaries and consulting fees to over a half-dozen of Romney's longtime political aides, according to a Globe review of expenditures.

Romney founded the Free and Strong America Committee shortly after dropping out of the 2008 presidential primary. He filled its coffers by telling conservative contributors around the country that their money would be used to support Republican candidates and causes.

That turned out to be false. The "cause" turned out to be Romney's future political plans. It will no doubt endear him to Republican candidates nationwide who probably could have used the extra support.

In any case, I'm not sure what to make of Romney's presidential ambitions. On the one hand, by 2012, the fact that he was a center-left Republican will be further back in voters' minds. When accused of having flip-flopped on practically every issue, Romney will be able to say, with a relatively straight face, "That was years ago."

On the other hand, Romeny's metamorphosis into a far-right leader is still an awkward one, and the party's reflexive conservative base still doesn't trust the former Massachusetts governor.

One other related thought: what will Romney do to appear busy over the next three years? Huckabee will be a media personality, while Palin and Jindal will be governors. Will ol' Mitt just be a professional candidate for the foreseeable future?

Steve Benen 8:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Romney had to self-finance on a massive level just to be creditable in 2008. He has name recognition currently because of all that personal wealth spent building it, but will it really carry over to 2012? Will he be willing to spend his own money again at the same level? If not, I think he falls off the radar before the primaries. As sickening as it will be to watch, I think Palin becomes an inevitable juggernaut (with the Republican base, anyway) over the next 4 years.

Posted by: Shalimar on December 8, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

what will Romney do to appear busy over the next three years?

Take acting lessons. His portrayal of an actual, non-android, human last go-round was stilted and unconvincing.

As for Palin, by then, she'll be the answer to a trivia question. I expect her home-state legal troubles will remain at a sub-Stevens level, but nevertheless will be grave enough to stymie her ambitions. I'll take all the action you're offering that she either finishes lower than third in the Iowa caucuses, or drops out before that point.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 8, 2008 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

You're being sarcastic, of course, but his fellow Republicans probably WILL appreciate the "political savvy" of a politician who starts up a political action committee (which is like a license to steal in today's partisan environment) and then diverts the bulk of the money to his or her own ambitions. Somewhere The Hammer is smiling.

Posted by: Mark on December 8, 2008 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

It's hard to see how Romney does any better in 2012 than in 2008, unless everyone else of significance steps aside and lets Romney be the GOP's sacrificial lamb when Obama runs for re-election.

After all, the 2008 field was really, really weak. The top 5 candidates for the nomination were McCain, Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee, and Fred Thompson.

Giuliani self-destructed, Thompson was a zombie, Huckabee couldn't raise any money, and McCain's campaign was all but dead just two months before the first primary. Yet Mitt couldn't gain any traction, despite spending tens of millions of his own money.

In 2012, Huckabee will start off with better name recognition and be able to raise more money, and Palin is of course adored by the base. And Davis, I'll take that bet.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 8, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

As for Palin, by then, she'll be the answer to a trivia question. Davis X Machina

I'm not so sure about that. She failed terribly in only a very few interviews, all by rather tepid journalists like Gibson and Couric or Republican-friendly ones like Cavuto. Yet after the election, she invited more interviews, obviously showing she doesn't consider her ignorance to be an impediment.

Meanwhile, Romney lost collossally to an awful candidate. I just can't imagine the Republicans seeing him as viable. By the way, I feel the same way about Gore. I would bet that very few people over 30 would ever consider voting for him in a primary, despite his overwhelmingly successful powerpoint presentation.

Posted by: Danp on December 8, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Davis, sorry, I misread that statement. I thought you wrote she would be able to answer a trivia question. :)

Posted by: Danp on December 8, 2008 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Romney may well be in good shape for 2012. Assuming Obama passes major health care reform, the Republicans will not be able to run as the party that will take away your health care, but Romney can run as someone who will make it work better for less money. His Mass. experience becomes a plus rather than a hindrance.

How will Palin be popular in 2012 with collapsing oil prices? Her whole game was taking cash from oil profits and showering Alaskans with it. Her expiration date has passed but many of the hard-core are still pretending not to notice the smell.

Posted by: Th on December 8, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Will ol' Mitt just be a professional candidate for the foreseeable future?

As I said about Palin's efforts to stay in the spotlight.
Worked great for Edwards. Go for it.

With the Mormons having backed Prop 8, now BOTH conservatives and liberals have bones to pick with some of Mitt's buddies.
(Any cross cred the Mormons got for being anti-gay will not be sufficient to overcome their gut fear of "other")

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on December 8, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Romney's PAC is pretty active. As a Republican activist, I made note of the fact that he was busy campaigning around the country, more so than any other defeated 08 candidate. As far as most of the PAC's spending going toward administrative costs and consultants, isn't that the case with every PAC? Where is the Globe story on Hillary's PAC? Or Mike Huckabee's PAC? Or Ted Kennedy and John Kerry's PAC? My guess is you'd find in all those cases that "administrative costs and consultants" gobbled up anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of spending. This looks like another typical Globe "hit job" on a Republican.

Posted by: Kathy on December 8, 2008 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Could we invent a new twist to the British Parliamentarian system, and just prorogue the Repug Party until 2012?

Hey, if the Conservative Stephen Harper can use it in Canada to suspend Parliament, why can't we suspend or delay the Repugs. They are ever sooo Irrelevant, today.

Posted by: berttheclock on December 8, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sharpening the toes of my steel-pointed boots.

Things just get more complicated for the Repubs. Mor(mon) and more, Utah's gift to the country is just like a fundamentalist evangelical, except.... Romney started a fund to aid Republican candidates, but limited it to those who look like him -- a lot like him. Today Shelby of Alabama calls the auto bailout "a bridge loan to nowhere" and says he might filibuster it. So billions for Ted Stevens and Abramoff, but nothing for America. What do you suppose these guys will do for insurance reform? And how will it be received outside of their thirty per cent base that thinks killing America is a great idea? Come 2012, Palin may seem like a better idea than ever to them -- as a disposable candidate.

Posted by: ericfree on December 8, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

I actually think Romney is formidable, despite his slick appearance and personality. However, I'd recommend waiting to see how Obama does before any predictions are made regarding Romney's chances in 2012. He may or may not be better off in 2016 (perhaps doing something useful in the meantime).

Posted by: Franklin on December 8, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I'm all for bipartisanship and burying hatchets, but some of us will never forget that when Romney dropped out of the 2008 race, he said, "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Sens. Clinton or [Barack] Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

Posted by: Wally on December 8, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Franklin but would add that if Obama has to lose in 2012, I'd much prefer Romney over Huckabee, Jindal, or Palin.

Posted by: JRD on December 8, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Palin and Jindal are already professional candidates-- Romney's distinction will be that he's the one without a day job.

Posted by: MattF on December 8, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Romney is a dangerous man. His ambition is self-consuming, and his impact on this country would be devastating. The man has no principles.

Posted by: Impeachcheneythenbush on December 8, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Will ol' Mitt just be a professional candidate for the foreseeable future?

Who the hell cares? The only people paying attention to future Republican presidential candidates right now are the crybabies who can't believe a Democrat is about to take up residence in the house they think belongs to them by divine right. Right now I feel pretty confident that Obama has assembled a solid cabinet, a group of team players who will work to ensure a successful administration. Time will tell, but the American electorate recently dealt a severe ass-whippin' to conservatism, and they're in the mood for serious change. If Obama delivers, 2012 will be all about him, and the GOP dog-and-pony show will barely be noticed.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on December 8, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

The media will continue to put Romney on teevee as if he's some Republican economic guru no matter how ridiculous he sounds, thus keeping him in the limelight.

Palin's disinterest in learning anything about national and international politics will probably relegate her to surrogate status for 2012. I've heard her say herself 2016 seems more likely to her.

Posted by: markg8 on December 8, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Romeny's metamorphosis into a far-right leader is still an awkward one, and the party's reflexive conservative base still doesn't trust the former Massachusetts governor."
**Typo on Romeny**

Ya, OK, the "reflexive conservative base" is more worried about his former state governorship then his religion ? The only way Mitt sees his name on a ballot is going to be with Palin to ensure the "reflexive conservative base" that Mitt isn't going start drinking babies blood on Easter.

I wonder how Prop 8 is going to effect his odds. One one hand, he has to let the craven idiots know his church financed the operation. But on the other hand, he has to do it in a way that doesn't inflame the backlash crowd. That is a balancing act he can not handle without Palin IMO. I suspect she is better as number two, that gives her a great deal of freedom in distancing her rhetoric from the actual campaign.

Posted by: ScottW on December 8, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK


I believe most of can recall when Romney said he was running for president in the 2008 campaign to keep Democrats from winning and surrendering to terrorists.

That makes him a certifiable scoundrel, clearly unfit ever to be president.

Posted by: Lacy on December 8, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

If he doesn't use his money to get a personality transplant, and if he keeps his funny underwear on (i.e. doesn't convert to Baptist), Mitt has no chance.

So spend, Mitt, spend! Run, Mitt, run! The more spent on him, the less will be available for truly dangerous candidates like Huckabee.

Posted by: Cal Gal on December 8, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think Willard "Mitt" Romney chances of winning a presidential bid is nil.

People will never forget that it was the Mormon church that sponsored Prop 8.

People will never forget, that his "Sober Living by the Sea," half-way, drug treatment programs in So. Cali caused problems with its residents.

People will never forget, he, for one, said that the government shouldn't bail out the big 3 autos. Basically, forget about the workers.

Posted by: Annjell on December 8, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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