WASHINGTON — In private meetings and phone conversations, Mitt Romney has begun to answer the biggest question looming over his potential entry into the 2016 presidential contest.
Romney’s stunning change of heart, after two years of strenuously denying he had any interest in seeking the Republican nomination again, appears to have evolved in just the last few weeks. And, just as quickly, he has been developing a rationale for a third bid, say supporters he spoke with recently.
Economic stewardship would still lie at the core of a Romney campaign, as it did in 2012, but he also would seek to turn some past weaknesses into strengths. The candidate — once lampooned for his wealth and caught on video dismissing the 47 percent of voters on government assistance — has been telling supporters he would run on an antipoverty platform. And while a trip abroad proved to be a low point of his 2012 campaign, he is making the case that he is uniquely qualified on foreign affairs.
Underlying it all is the notion that, in the mind of Romney and his top advisers, the country made a mistake in not electing Romney in 2012. They want to give the country another shot at sending him to the White House.
In interviews this week with nearly a dozen committee members — the people who comprise the most active and powerful core of the party apparatus — nearly all expressed deep skepticism about a third Romney White House bid. The sentiment was unambigious: The GOP needs to find a new candidate to carry the party past its painful 2012 loss and back to the White House.
“He had a great opportunity last time and I personally want a fresh face,” said Roger Villere, the Louisiana Republican Party chairman. “What’s going to be different this time?”
“I have not detected a groundswell of support for him,” added Rob Gleason, the Pennsylvania GOP chairman.
What are your thoughts on Romney running for a third time?
On the 2016 race in general?