There was a moment when it looked as if both Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney would be running for president. Then, apparently, meetings were convened in the modern-day equivalent of smoke-filled rooms, and Romney decided to bow out, allowing Bush to be the graybeard choice of the party Establishment.
More and more, it seems as if the party made a mistake. Mitt and Jeb are both sad emblems of an embarrassing past, but Jeb appears to be a worse campaigner than Mitt, and Jeb refuses to budge from positions that are anathema to the party base. What's more, the party's voters want a candidate who's an grudge-driven attack dog, which is why the first candidate to shoot to the top of the charts this year was Scott Walker.
If the party Establishment wanted an establishmentarian and Republican voters want a guy motivated by resentment and grudges, Mitt Romney would have been a much better choice. Consider what happened last night at the end of Mitt's charity boxing match with Evander Holyfield:
Holyfield was then declared “The Heavyweight Champion of the World!” while Romney smiled like he’d just knocked out all of his liberal opponents.
And then he took his best jabs of the night at those political foes in a post-fight speech.
The former Massachusetts governor joked about not wanting to take too many hits to the head out of fear he might become a Democrat.
He teased presidential candidate Hillary Clinton about her clean computer server.
He elicited loud laughter by quipping, “I’m ready to take on Harry Reid’s exercise equipment.”
Perhaps his strongest shot came while explaining that John Kerry set up this fight against Holyfield.
“I’m happy to fight against anybody,” Romney said, “as long as Candy Crowley isn’t the referee.”
Yes, it's been nearly three years and he's still angry at Candy Crowley for accurate statements about Benghazi in the second Obama-Romney debate.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror...
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
But, well, Romney got a laugh back in March when he made the same joke about Crowley on (where else?) Fox News:
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggested Tuesday he could put up a fight against boxer Evander Holyfield -- who he will face as part of a charity event in May -- as long as the referee isn't the moderator of one of his 2012 debates with President Obama.
"I can fight anybody, so long as Candy Crowley isn’t the referee," he said on Fox News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
Romney will be nursing this grudge for the rest of his life. To the Republican base, that makes him more appealing than he was in 2012. GOP Establishment, why didn't you recognize that? If you wanted to back a retread in this race, he was the guy to back. You could have sold him as a seasoned, grandfatherly moderate, the 2016 version of 1968's New Nixon, come general election time.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog