Romney hosting GOP summit, planning nomination coup?

June 11 is a big day for Republican politics as Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyStatesmen seek bipartisan solutions to big challenges Georgia ready for unpredictable Senate race Impeachment can't wait MORE hosts his fourth major summit meeting that brings together large GOP donors, a number of Republican presidential candidates, GOP opinion-makers, and campaign managers and political operatives with big clout in the Grand Old Party.

In the course of the three-day Romney summit being held at a mountain resort in Utah, there will swimming, horseback riding, tennis and talk about global economics, and the GOP presidential prospects who attend will join the others in high praise for the host, Mitt Romney.

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It just so happens that if political events were to take certain turns, and the 2012 GOP nominee for president makes a surprise bid for the 2016 nomination, or more likely if a divided and gridlocked GOP turns to Romney as a compromise candidate and statesman, the participants in the Romney summit could raise a billion dollars overnight to support another Romney presidential candidacy, and the political organizers attending the event could organize a full-blown presidential campaign within days, if not hours!

Readers of my columns know that within hours of Romney removing himself as a contender for the 2016 nomination, I warned that his withdrawal could well be part of a brilliantly clever plan for him to stay above the fray, let Republican candidates beat each other up and be raked over the coals by the media during the primary season, and then emerge as a consensus compromise nominee of the party.

If Romney had been pursuing such a Machiavellian maneuver, can anyone deny that events since that day have worked with picture-perfect clarity to make the Romney for president scenario look increasingly plausible?

First, for any Romney for president plot to succeed, the Republicans would have to face a list of candidates so long and unwieldy that the GOP debates shape up as a farce that would diminish all candidates by comparison to Romney, and the mathematics would have to be such that a group of bunched candidates receiving 10 to 20 percent of the vote leads to pre-convention gridlock. Check that box, right?

Second, any Romney plot for the nomination requires the overwhelming GOP front-runner at the time Romney withdrew, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), to fall flat and lose the inevitability that he appeared to have at the time. Check that box, yes?

And third, for any Romney coup to succeed, any potential highly electable GOP opponent has to fall by the wayside to clear the path for him. Have you noticed the sudden burst of negative stories about Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements Three dead, several injured in Pensacola naval station shooting MORE (R-Fla.) led by The New York Times? Those of us who have been to political rodeos suspect that some Republican mouths have been whispering into some New York Times ears, saying things like: "Why don't you check with the Department of Motor Vehicles and look at the driving records of Rubio and his wife?" Or: "Dear Times reporter, don't you wonder how Rubio could afford such an expensive boat considering his financial difficulties over two decades?"

Since The New York Times has been modest in explaining what prompted their reporters to pursue these stories, might I suggest that a source could have been people close to Romney, who vetted Rubio for vice president in 2016? Let's watch for sly background quotes about how there were good reasons why Romney did not choose Rubio as a running mate. Or could the whispers against Rubio into the ears of The New York Times be coming from the lips of aides to Bush, who has just shaken up his campaign because his candidacy has been falling flat?

Could the contest for the GOP nomination end up — metaphorically — looking like the Roman Empire before Claudius became emperor, when bad things happened to other contenders for the position because they failed to hire food testers before dining?

If I were chatting with Scott Walker right now, I would tell the Republican governor of Wisconsin to be careful about dining alone these days!

Whatever the truth about the cause of the events that are described here, when you listen to Republican candidates for president heaping high praise on their host, Mitt Romney, during his three-day summit in Utah, consider this: Wouldn't that high praise for the leading statesman in the GOP today look pretty good in a Romney for president campaign ad, if it just so happens that none of the 18 Republicans seeking the nomination look like they can play major-league baseball against Hillary Clinton?

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at brentbbi@webtv.net.