What is Mitt Romney doing in the news cycle? And since when did he become a relevant topic to the 2016 presidential race? This election cycle just keeps getting weirder by the minute!
When I started hearing the reports of Mitt’s opinion on Donald Trump a couple of days ago, I ignored it. Who cares what he thinks about Trump (or anyone else?), and why is it even newsworthy? He’s not in the race and he hasn’t come forward with an endorsement for anyone. In fact, since his failed run in 2012, he’s been relatively silent and stayed out of the public arena. So why is he surfacing now?
After Trump’s Super Tuesday beatdown of all things GOP-Establishment, the Republican National Committee (RNC) most certainly called an emergency all-hands-on-deck pow wow. Face it, they expected the Trump Train to crash and burn months ago. They thought the voters would wise up and select a “sensible” choice, not some razzle-dazzle reality TV star to be the next Commander in Chief.
In fact, Trump’s crushing Super Tuesday victories further illustrate just how out of touch the RNC and Establishment Republican leaders are with their conservative base. You know, those folks who elected them to office with an expectation that they’d actually deliver on SOME of the promises they made while they were campaigning?!
GOP leaders in the House and Senate have created this primary election spectacle. They were handed 2/3 of the federal government in 2014. And while they may have slowed Obama’s Executive Branch down a little bit, more often than not it looks to us common folk that they largely go along with him applying little to no resistance. Yes, there are a few exceptions to the rule (like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton), but by and large, GOP leadership is failing to lead. And they certainly aren’t carrying out the will of the people who elected them.
That brings us to where we are now. People are so angry with sitting GOP “leadership” that Trump is killing the competition, simply for being an outsider. It doesn’t matter what he says or how he says it. That’s how fed up voters are with being lied to by politicians. They already know what they’re going to get with career politicians, so they’re willing to gamble on an unknown.
With Trump in play and leading by a country mile, the RNC is desperately trying to figure out how to knock him down. He’s already shown that he doesn’t play by their rules or any other “normal” campaign rules of engagement. And the voters don’t care. They’re tired of politics as usual, and Trump is anything but “usual”!
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are fighting to stay in the race. The RNC is scrambling to secure an Anybody-but-Trump nominee. But their tactics are old school… and they’re not working.
First, they tried to rise above it. Stick to policy. Stick to facts. Stay presidential. Don’t engage in the mudslinging. That didn’t work. Everyone ignored them. There was too much razzle-dazzle going on right next to them and mud being slung at them to avoid it! Ignoring it made them look tone-deaf or weak.
Next, one by one, they responded to or returned insults. That didn’t work out well either. It’s hard to beat Trump in the one-liner department. The man has that skill sewn up!
And most recently, Rudio and Cruz tried to go “Trump” themselves… what a disaster! Rubio slinging Trump-like insults doesn’t look presidential. On Rubio, it just looks like a petulant child. And while Cruz didn’t take the insults to the tantrum level that Rubio did, the underhanded slights did not go unnoticed. Neither candidate benefited from that experiment. And judging from Super Tuesday results, both failed miserably at it.
So how does the RNC trump Trump? The tried and true campaign tactics are not working because The Donald is rewriting the political playbook day-by-day. It’s a page-turner that the American public cannot put down.
I think it’s safe to say at this point that the RNC has finally figured out from those recent epic failures, don’t send your best candidates into a mudslinging contest with The Donald. They just won’t win.
Enter… Mitt Romney. He’s articulate, handsome, well-spoken, and wealthy in his own right. He’s got no horse in this race. He’s establishment GOP with nothing to lose (unless the Democrats win!) So the RNC pushes him out front and center to spar with The Donald.
What good does that do, you ask? Simple. It takes the heat off Cruz and Rubio having to spar with The Donald. Romney can say whatever he wants about Trump. He’ll never have to answer to Trump or even respond. As long as someone will listen, Romney can make the Anybody-but-Trump case all day long and hope that The Donald will shift his focus to Romney and forget about attacking Cruz and Rubio.
With Mitt as the Fall Guy, at best, the RNC can hope to find that one “jab” that will inflict a fatal blow to the Trump Train that they can use all the way to November with one of the other candidates. And at the very least, Mitt will redirect some of the incoming assaults away from Rubio and Cruz possibly giving them a fighting chance at a nomination.
Personally, I think it’s too little too late. No matter what, The Donald will still be headline news in every media every day. The other candidates… not so much.
Photo credit Gage Skidmore