Might Mitt Romney Be Drafted as an Independent Presidential Candidate?

Ballot Access News reports former George W. Bush chief media strategist Mark McKinnon proposed in an interview with NPR on Thursday that if the Republican Party nominates billionaire real estate magnate Donald Trump for president, establishment Republicans may seek to qualify for an independent presidential ticket with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as their nominee.

McKinnon, who admitted he voted for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson in 2012, told host Robert Siegel of the “wild and improbable” scenario where a Romney candidacy could happen:

[Trump] starts to gather enough delegates where it actually looks like he could win the nomination. The Republican establishment completely freaks out. They get together and say, this is unacceptable, but it looks like it’s going to happen. So we go off, and we create a new Republican Party as an Independent candidacy and draft somebody who’s tanned, rested and ready to go and with a lot of money, somebody like Mitt Romney.

McKinnon said the more likely scenario would see Trump attain enough delegates “to be a real nuisance at the [Republican] convention where he can leverage some agreement or get something out of it so that he can walk away with a win.”

35 thoughts on “Might Mitt Romney Be Drafted as an Independent Presidential Candidate?

  1. Andy

    I heard that some of the people who were behind Americans Elect ended up backing Mitt Romney for President in 2012 after Americans Elect folded, so this may not be so far fetched.

  2. Robert Capozzi

    Sooo interesting that McKinnon voted for GJ.

    I can see AE or something like it trying to blunt Trump, but I don’t find Romney to be their best choice. Bloomberg or Huntsman seem more their style.

  3. Andy Craig

    I could see something like this happening. Romney wouldn’t be the best choice, but he’s a plausible and safe choice. Of course the point of the exercise would not be to win the 2016 election- that ship will have sailed by that point- but rather to do their best to distance the GOP establishment (and political class more broadly) from the disaster, so they can move on ASAP to rebuilding what’s left of the party post-Trump.

  4. Mark Axinn

    Robert–
    I disagree about the oblivion part. Trump is so arrogant that he won’t quit no matter how many gaffes. McKinnon’s “likely scenario” from the article, that Trump gets enough delegates to be an annoyance but not enough to win, seems far more likely.

    I do agree with you that it’s sooo interesting that McKinnon voted for GJ. These guys take the man’s paycheck, but then go their own way in the privacy of the voting booth!

  5. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Neither Bloomberg or Romney, or any of the “safe” establishment candidates, have any real following, except among pundits and establishment insiders. Their names get trotted out by pundits and bloggers, who need to fill air time and print space by speculating on fantasy scenarios.

    But these milquetoast moderates don’t inflame the public’s passions. Especially not this election cycle, when the public seems especially angry and looking for someone to voice their anger.

  6. Robert Capozzi

    MA, I don’t have a view of whether Trump quits or not. I just sense that his schtick will get old, he’ll say a couple more really outrageous things, and his fad will pass.

    Teeth: But these milquetoast moderates don’t inflame the public’s passions. Especially not this election cycle, when the public seems especially angry and looking for someone to voice their anger.

    me: Yes, that’s how it looks now. But if the field is Clinton/Trump, what that looks like is 2 REALLY damaged people.

    Recall when RP1 started to gain traction in the 08 cycle. He was then taken down with NewletterGate and his colossally embarrassing MtP interview, when he exposed himself as, in effect, a CSA sympathizer.

    It’s probably the case that the “milquetoast” establishment recognizes that both of these candidates are too risky for their respective parties. Both will be taken down, I believe. Of course, because both Clinton and Trump almost certainly recognize subconsciously if not consciously that they each in their own way are walking embarrassments, it will appear that they take themselves down. They will commit fatal gaffes, I believe.

    Think Ed Muskie or Ross Perot.

  7. George Phillies

    Trump actually has to be defeated by someone. The #2 and 3 are Carson and Fiorina, who are not exactly progress from the standpoint of the party establishment. The classical opponents are very large in number, may not coalesce, and all have enough money to keep going for some time.

  8. Deez Nuts

    You’re off by an order of magnitude, and “will” makes it sounds like it will happen, although even “McKinnon said the more likely scenario would see Trump attain enough delegates “to be a real nuisance at the [Republican] convention where he can leverage some agreement or get something out of it so that he can walk away with a win.”

  9. Losty

    Please. For all that is good in the world.
    Romney Third Parry.
    Then the LP, And the CP. And Trump.
    Heck, Maybe we could get Jeb to qualify The “It’s My Turn Dammit” Party in some states.

    As many right leaning parties and people as possible.
    Plus think of the Petitioning needed…

  10. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Paulie, but who wants Bloomberg? He’s not all that popular even in New York City. Neither progressives or conservatives or libertarians like him. He has no core support. His campaign’s unspoken message will be: “Yeah, I suck. But not as much as the others who are running.”

    Then there’s the conventional wisdom that former NYC mayors can’t be elected president — that it’s a poor platform from which to launch a presidential campaign. In our time, both Giuliani and Lindsay tried it and failed. I think Ed Koch flirted with the idea, but quit before he started.

  11. Robert Capozzi

    According to CNN’s latest poll, it’s already happening. Trump is falling, Fiorina is #2, and Rubio has broken into double digits.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/20/politics/carly-fiorina-donald-trump-republican-2016-poll/index.html

    My guess is The Donald will continue to wear poorly. The logjam among the pros doesn’t have to break for this to happen, although of course it will eventually break. Cooler heads will likely prevail, as people think and feel through what a President Trump would represent.

    Still puttng that ticket at 35% Rubio/Fiorina, with Bush and Kasich as the fallbacks.

  12. Robert Capozzi

    Teeth, yes, it’s been a long time since someone went from mayor to prez. Bloomberg only runs indie if it’s Trump/Clinton. By contrast, he looks like an adult.

    Heaven help us.

  13. paulie

    Romney Third Parry.
    Then the LP, And the CP. And Trump.
    Heck, Maybe we could get Jeb to qualify The “It’s My Turn Dammit” Party in some states.

    As many right leaning parties and people as possible.

    LP right leaning? I disagree.

  14. Robert Capozzi

    It’d be a fat man’s race with a Trump v. Clinton field to be relatively popular. The Bushes weren’t especially popular, either. Johnson wasn’t, either.

  15. Mark Axinn

    RC wrote:
    >Bloomberg only runs indie if it’s Trump/Clinton. By contrast, he looks like an adult.
    >Heaven help us.

    LOL!!

    But you’re likely correct that Trump’s schtick becomes tired and someone else rises to the top in the RP. I had thought you meant he drops out voluntarily b/c of personal gaffes, which he won’t do.

  16. Robert Capozzi

    ma, I’m not terribly concerned about whether a stumbling Trump fights on or not. Part of me would like to see him break the pledge and run independent, mostly for the circus of it all. Trump winning the R nomination scares me, as he might actually win, given how weak HC has become. He’s clearly unqualified even by conventional measures, and it seems clear to me that he lacks emotional stability to be prez or commander in chief.

    If he makes it through the first few primaries and doesn’t win a significant number o delegates, he could easily save face and claim that his business requires him to suspend his election. But if he wants to play the losing buffoon deep into the primaries, that’s his prerogative.

  17. Mark Axinn

    >given how weak HC has become…

    Robert–One of my law partners is sponsoring a luncheon with her on Thursday at the Friar’s Club on 55th Street in Manhattan. Mostly rich, left-leaning lawyers and banksters. It’s only $1400 per person to chill with Hil over cheap Chardonay and rubber chicken; let me know if you want me to put you down for a couple tix to help her campaign out!

  18. Joe

    He’s not all that popular even in New York City.

    . . . .Then how did he get elected and re-elected?

    Like a lot of second term politicians he became more unpopular after his reelection . . .

  19. Mark Axinn

    Actually, third term.

    Like Ed Koch, Michael Bloomberg was Mayor of New York for 12 years.

    Not only did I live in NYC through all 24 of those years with those guys as my Mayor, but I also suffered the twelve years between them with Dinkins and Giuliani in control.

  20. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    He’s not all that popular even in New York City.

    Then how did he get elected and re-elected?

    Bloomberg was a registered Democrat. Giuliani was termed out in 2001, and many Democrats jumped into the race. Bloomberg re-registered Republican because that gave him an almost empty field for the GOP primary (I think there was one minor GOP candidate).

    Then 9/11 happened, boosting Giuliani’s popularity. Bloomberg happened to be in the right place at the right time (another Republican, and right after 9/11) to step into Giuliani’s shoes.

    Bloomberg was a default candidate in 2001. And also in 2005, when he had the power of incumbency. There was just no strong candidate to oppose him.

    Giuliani had been termed out in 2001, due to a voter initiative limited a mayor to 2 terms. Bloomberg was a beneficiary of that term limit.

    But then Bloomberg did something really sleazy. He made a deal with the City Council to overturn the voter initiative. Whether the City Council could legally do that was in doubt, but I don’t know if it was challenged in court.

    So in 2009, Bloomberg ran for a third term, though it might have been illegal. Again, he was a default candidate. No one to oppose him. The local Democratic party, for all its size, was in surprising disarray.

    By 2013 everyone was sick of Bloomberg and he left without a fight.

    I never got the impression that he was all that popular. He had some of Giuliani’s residual popularity at the start. People voted for Bloomberg because he was the most likely to maintain Giuliani’s “tough law-and-order” reforms.

  21. paulie

    It seems pretty hard to believe that in a city of 8 million an unpopular mayor would get reelected twice “by default” because no one bothers to mount a serious challenge. I’ve never seen politics or any other competitive field work that way.

  22. Robert Capozzi

    Popularity in politics can be a relative thing. If somehow Trump gets the R nomination, and HC limps into the D nomination, Bloomberg could look pretty good to a lot of people in contrast. I didn’t perceive Perot as being all that popular when he got in the race in 92, but he at one point manufactured popularity rather quickly.

    His net worth is $37B, more than 9x DT’s. That would buy a lot of exposure rather quickly. He is 73, though.

    I’m sticking to DT stumbling. A few more will go the way of Walker, too, allowing someone like Rubio to eclipse the Donald.

    HC might hold on, even if the Gaffe Machine (Biden) gets in, but she’s a profoundly weak candidate with even more skeletons in the closet that have yet to come out. (The D bench is amazingly thin!)

    Bloomberg-I, is highly unlikely, unless DT can somehow remain the front runner.

  23. paulie

    I don’t think they will pick Rubio. Boring as he is I still see it as Jeb. If Trump does pull it off, a Bloomberg or Romney could make a real run as an independent. Hillary has nine lives, so we’ll see yet whether the scandals will knock her out. Democrats have tons of governors and senators who could be tapped so I don’t think they will have a problem replacing her if they need to.

  24. Dave

    Worth noting that Bloomberg’s race for a third term was much closer than anyone expected and despite outspending his unknown opponent like 50-1, he only won by a few points. Had he been able to run again I suspect he’d have lost in a landslide, especially since de Blasio was very critical of Bloomy and won with 70+. If the GOP establishment were going to pick anyone, I think it would be Romney. Bloomberg is pretty much a right wing boogeyman at this point, being anti gun and anti big gulp soda. Romney’s dull, but at least he does not really challenge any republican orthodoxy.

    For the dems I think it will still be Hillary. Remember she still has most of the superdelegates locked up, and the DNC is in the tank for her. I confess though that I’m hoping the chatter is real and Jerry Brown gets in the race. Sure he’s old, but not much older than Sanders.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    PF, yes, I was feeling Jeb was the better bet 2 weeks ago, but Rubio has so far been quite sure footed and has the Latin-name advantage, which the Rs desperately need to be at least competitive with. Jeb is the safer choice, but I believe the R money will see that a Rubio/Fiorina ticket is a game changer for them.

    Yes, the Ds have guvs and sens, but none with a national stature except Warren, as I see it. None have been groomed that I can see, as HC has suffocated the field.

    That the monied Ds want Biden to get in validates this. It’s a pathetic Plan B, if you step back and look at it. A septuagenarian, 2 time loser, gaffe machine, small state, plagiarist, veep for 8 of the worst years since the 30s? Really?

    The Rs probably would like to see HC survive but bloody, damaged goods.

    Do we agree that Bloomberg (I think way more than Romney) only goes I if DT somehow wins?

    Dave, I don’t see an AE-type ticket unless it’s DT. I don’t assume that AE is just the R establishment. Monied Ds would be involved as well. A President Trump must frighten them, and a very damaged HC could actually make that prospect a possibility.

  26. Mark Axinn

    >Boring as he is I still see it as Jeb. …. Hillary has nine lives,

    I have to agree with Paulie.

    The two dynasties against each other. Both suck, and even more preposterous is the fact that most people think they’re making a difference voting. What a sham.

    Pass the anarchist seasoning please.

  27. Watermelon Lover

    Biden tells Hillary: “they’re going to put you in chains.”

    Hillary asks Biden, “what difference does it make? ”

    Biden yells at Hillary, “THIS IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL!”

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