Conservative Media Figures Object To “Stupid” Third Romney Run

As Mitt Romney is reportedly considering a third presidential run, several conservative media figures are calling foul, labeling the idea “too stupid” and suggesting another Romney bid would be “preposterous.”

After repeatedly claiming he was done with running for president, last Friday Romney apparently reversed course, telling a group of Republican donors in New York City, “I want to be president.” Since then, Romney's team has reportedly been working “to reassemble his national political network.”

As part of his efforts to kickstart another run, Romney reportedly reached out to several conservative media figures.

According to The Washington Post, he recently invited Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham to his ski home to discuss “politics and policy,” and also made phone calls to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich and Fox News contributor Scott Brown. In a subsequent appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham initially told viewers that between Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Romney, her support would “probably be a tie between Romney and Walker.” Pressed by O'Reilly, she added, “I'll just say Romney because he's been through the grist mill before.” (Ingraham explained that Romney had made her and her daughter “cocoa and soup” when she visited his ski house.)

During an appearance on Fox News' Your World, Brown said that when Romney recently called him, “I encouraged Mitt to run.” Brown told Fox News viewers that Romney “was right” on a variety of issues and that he “absolutely” wants Romney to join the race. 

But not everyone in the conservative movement is as supportive.

In an article for the New York Times, reporter Jonathan Martin writes that despite the “excitement among his loyalists in the Republican donor class” for another Romney run, “interviews with more than two dozen Republican activists, elected officials and contributors around the country reveal little appetite for another Romney candidacy.”

Romney also faces a hurdle in several prominent conservative media figures and outlets that are less than enthusiastic about the idea of another Romney run.

Erick Erickson: A Third Romney Run Is “Too Stupid Even For His Set Of Advisers.” Fox News contributor and influential conservative activist Erick Erickson tweeted, “I am willing myself not to believe Romney is running again.  That's too stupid even for his set of advisers.” Erickson has long been a vocal critic of Romney.

Jennifer Rubin: “On One Level, Another Romney Run Is Preposterous.” Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin, who was one of Romney's most ardent media supporters during his 2012 campaign, has written at least two posts this week throwing cold water on the idea of another Romney bid for president. In one post headlined, “The Romney reality: His time has passed,” Rubin argues, "[o]n one level, another Romney run is preposterous":

On one level, another Romney run is preposterous. In 2012, he not only put together an unwieldy and incompetent campaign, but he also dug his own grave again and again with comments that allowed the Democrats to portray him as out of touch and unfeeling. His staffers, as bad as they might have been, did not dismiss 47 percent of the country as moochers. Being right in 2012 and being the best of a weak field does not mean Romney would be the best of the lot in 2016 or Hillary Clinton's equal -- even with an entirely new cast of advisers. [emphasis in original]

WSJ Editorial Board: “It's Hard To See What Advantage Romney Brings” To Republican Field. In a January 13 editorialThe Wall Street Journal editorial board writes that Romney “is a man of admirable personal character, but his political profile is, well, protean.” The ed board argues that Romney's 2012 “campaign team was notable for its mediocrities,” and that Romney's voter turnout operation was a “management calamity.” They conclude:

Republicans are likely to have a far better field in 2016, so voters won't lack for plausible Presidents. It's hard to see what advantages Mr. Romney brings that the many potential first-time candidates who have succeeded as governors do not. 

Mark Levin: “Been There, Done That.” Conservative radio host Mark Levin tweeted a link to an article in The Hill about how Romney '16 “falls flat with GOP lawmakers,” telling his followers, “Been there, done that.”

Philip Klein:  “Conservatives Have Not Warmed Up To Romney.” Washington Examiner editor Philip Klein -- who, like Erickson, has long been critical of Romney -- wrote a piece arguing against the logic of another Romney run. According to Klein, “The one silver lining of the 2012 election results seemed to be that I'd never have to write about Mitt Romney as a candidate again.” He concluded by arguing that “conservatives have not warmed up to Romney”:

Romney may have believed some of the stories that surfaced last year about nostalgia for Romney. But this sentiment on the Right (such as “see, Romney warned about the threat of Russia”) was more about pointing out the failures of Obama's second term than representative of any newfound love of Romney. Conservatives have not warmed up to Romney. They've gone easier on him, because they assumed he was retired from politics and they don't see the need to continue kicking him. That will change should he run for president again, a prospect that perplexingly is looking more likely.

Dan Gainor: Romney Is An “Awful Candidate.” Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor tweeted, “Thanks to #GOP/media push for awful candidates Bush/Christie/Romney, I fully expect I won't vote Republican for president.” 

Jonah Goldberg: “I Know Lots Of Honorable Capable, And Decent People. I Don't Want Them To Run For President Either.” In a piece for National Review headlined, “The Problem with Romney Nostalgia,” Jonah Goldberg lauds Romney personally before arguing against another Romney run:

Don't get me wrong. I wanted him to win in 2012, and I think voters made a serious mistake not following my advice. I've met the man, and I know several of his friends and former staffers. He inspires great loyalty in them, and that speaks well of him. He's an honorable, capable, and decent person.

But I know lots of honorable, capable, and decent people. I don't want them to run for president either.

Goldberg concludes by writing that while he is “sympathetic” to the idea that “just trying to keep Bush from locking up all the big donors and preventing a Bush coronation...the sympathy ends the day Romney announces.”

During an extended discussion on Fox News' Happening Now about the Republican presidential field, Goldberg said, “I feel like I'm taking crazy pills at the idea of Mitt Romney running again. I think it's a terrible idea.”

Rupert Murdoch: Mitt Romney Is “A Terrible Candidate.” During a January 14 appearance at the Manhattan Institute, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch called Mitt Romney “a terrible candidate” according to Politico. Speaking with Fox News analyst Judith Miller, Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns the Wall Street Journal, said: “I rather agree with the Journal this morning, which sort of lacerated Romney ... he had his chance, he mishandled it, you know? I thought Romney was a terrible candidate.” Murdoch went on to criticize Romney for “destroying every other Republican with his own money” during the 2012 Republican primary but then failing to fend off attacks that he was “super rich” during the general election. 

This post has been updated to include additional comments from conservative media figures about a Romney run.