In Politico’s Playbook on Saturday Mike Allen reported that elite Republicans are still fantasizing about a superhero who will swoop in to free them from the limitations of their current crop of contenders [the all-capitalized phrases are Allen’s]:
A tippy-top Republican, unprompted, yesterday sketched the germ of a plan for a new candidate if Rick Santorum upsets Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary on Feb. 28. Our friend brought visual aids: chicken-scratched versions of prosaic documents that are circulating among GOP insiders like nuclear-code sheets…. The point: even after Feb. 28, it might be possible to assemble a Hail Mary candidacy that could garner enough delegates to force a CONTESTED convention….
AT THAT VERY MOMENT, ABC’S JONATHAN KARL was at the Capitol, having a conversation that resulted in this Richter-rattler: “A prominent Republican senator just told me that if Romney can’t win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race. ‘If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,’ said the senator…. “Santorum? ‘He’d lose 35 states,’ the senator said, predicting the same fate for Newt Gingrich. It would have to be somebody else, the senator said. Who? ‘Jeb Bush.’ ”
This is silly because no candidate exists who would be simultaneously more acceptable to the Republican base and independents than both Romney and Santorum. And if he did, he’d be a fool to sign on for this unpleasant adventure.
The candidates whose names are being tossed out as options—Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush—have plenty of potential liabilities. Daniels has been fined for drug possession. His marital history is complicated, although at least on the surface it’s much more sympathetic than, say, Newt Gingrich’s. He also was director of the Office of Management and Budget back when George W. Bush was running up the budget deficit, something Republicans claim to have been upset by at the time, although we know they are lying. Perhaps, like having supported an individual mandate in healthcare reform, it could become an ex post facto disqualification.
Chris Christie, who has already endorsed Romney, has taken a stance against Islamophobia, a position that offends many conservatives. Meanwhile, his angry, abrasive shtick might play badly among soccer mom swing voters.
Jeb Bush is the brother of former President George W. Bush. I don’t think that point requires further illumination.
And what would be their incentive for getting in the race? To have their histories pored over, to spend days raising money and rushing to put together a campaign only to risk embarrassment? Since it’s no longer possible for a new entrant to win the nomination outright, the reward would merely be winning enough delegates to force a fight at the convention. If these candidates couldn’t be persuaded to accept the hassles of a Republican primary when it was winnable, why would any of them do so now?
Republicans should come to grips with the fact that the nominee is going to be one of the remaining, unappealing candidates.