Brent Budowsky: Mitt Romney in 2016?

Brent Budowsky: Mitt Romney in 2016?

As the Republican presidential debates come and go, as a resurgent Hillary Clinton appears poised to win the Democratic nomination, as the unimpressive GOP candidates for president are entering a stage in the campaign where they have begun to tear each other down and as the vote for president comes ever closer, there is a growing panic throughout the GOP establishment about the low quality of nominee they may field against the highly qualified and powerful former U.S. senator and secretary of state.

Today neither the most thoughtful conservatives nor the party powers that be can claim a champion in the GOP campaign who is both a plausible president and a highly electable candidate. The governing wing of the Republican Party once expected former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to carry their banner, but that has not worked out and there is no evidence it will.

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There is a unique chemistry and metaphysics to presidential politics that determines which candidates catch fire and which do not. For whatever reason, the Bush candidacy has left GOP voters flat. The dogs won’t eat the dog food, and the most expensive packaging will not make the meal any tastier.

None of the other plausible Republican candidates to win have caught on either in a race that is dominated by two front-runners the establishment views as anathema, unelectable and likely to take the party down to a 1964-magnitude defeat.

As I first wrote for The Hill on the day Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McConnell pushes back on Trump: 'There will be an orderly transition' MORE announced he would not run in 2016, if Bush does not make substantial campaign progress in the very near future — and it appears highly unlikely he will — there will be a stampede from GOP leaders and major donors to draft the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential nominee to run for president again, in the same way and for the same reasons there was recently a draft to enlist Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to accept the Speakership of the House of Representatives.

Both his admirers and detractors agree that Romney would be a plausible president and an electable candidate. He has substantial management, business and government experience. He has been fully vetted in presidential politics and he has acquitted himself well in presidential debates.

The entire history of the GOP suggests, and most high-level Republicans would privately agree, that the party will not nominate and Americans will not elect a candidate whose campaign has been a steady stream of vindictive insults against so many individuals and groups that he has alienated key voting blocks and a majority of voters.

Nor will Republicans nominate or Americans elect a candidate whose understanding of history is so lacking that he argues if Germany in the 1930s had instituted anti-gun control policies, Adolf Hitler would not have cursed the world with Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

The majority of mainstream Republicans and the GOP establishment have begun to assert their will in the nation’s capital. Outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has orchestrated a decisive debt-ceiling deal on terms equally favorable to President Obama and Democratic leaders that defangs much of the leverage of the obstructionist right in Congress until 2017. He has masterminded the succession of Ryan to the Speakership on terms that strongly favor the governing wing of the GOP and significantly weaken its obstructionist wing that treats politics as a weapon of mass destruction against the functionality of government itself.

Do Republicans want a sectarian party that has politically outlawed all liberal Republicans, would politically outlaw all moderate Republicans, treats even moderate conservatives with contempt and aggressively disrespects the tolerance that is the heart of true Americanism?

There are two epic political battles being waged in America. One is a battle of ideas between the parties, where Democrats will almost certainly be led by the superbly qualified leader who would be the first woman president of the United States. The other is a battle for the future of the GOP, where the voice of Mitt Romney will, I predict, soon be heard.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sens. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.