| Gaby Chwallek |
Washington (dpa) – “Done. Completely … Done. Done. Done.”
That was Ann Romney just last year, when she dismissed any idea that husband Mitt Romney would make another bid for the US presidency.
Fast forward to last week: The two-time candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination said in San Diego that he was “seriously” thinking about another run in 2016.
Not only that. He said Ann is “very encouraging”.
“She believes that people get better with experience,” the wealthy former governor of Massachusetts joked. He did after all win the party’s nomination in 2012. Maybe third time would get him the prize.
“Heaven knows I have experience running for president,” Romney quipped.
That’s true – but “loser” Romney making another bid? Even some in conservative circles are dismayed by the prospect.
“Romney Recycled,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after Romney indicated to donors that he was perhaps not yet “done.”
The writer lauded Romney as a “man of admirable personal character” but spent the rest of the article in scathing criticism of his mistakes and shortcomings in the 2012 loss to Obama.
Columnist Marc Thiessen, former speechwriter for Republican president George W Bush, put a finer point on it in the Washington Post: “Romney 2016? Noooo!”
But Romney would hardly be the only political “oldie” who would try again or attempt to ride a family name into the White House.
On the Democratic side, expectation is growing that Hillary Clinton – the former first lady, senator and secretary of state – will enter the race after losing the party’s nomination in 2008 to Obama. Given her towering stature, that possibility has sucked most of the air out of the room for other potential Democratic candidates.
Yet another familiar surname – former Florida governor Jeb Bush – announced late last year that he was “actively” exploring a presidential run, a move that could propel a third member of the Bush political dynasty into the White House.
Then there are Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum who could make bids, with an appeal to the party’s arch-conservative faction.
“Overall, 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the retreads: the reduce, reuse and recycle election,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote last week.
“If the field develops the way it appears to be going, this will be my fourth Clinton-campaign, fourth Bush-campaign, third Romney-campaign, third Paul-campaign, second Huckabee-campaign and second Santorum-campaign,” he wrote.
If Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush wins the White House in 2016 and serves a second term, it would mean the two families would have occupied the White House for 28 of the 36 years since 1988, Milbank calculated.
It does seem puzzling for a country of 320 million people founded on rebellion against monarchic rule. Even Barbara Bush, wife and mother of two ex presidents, considers the prospect absurd.
“If we can’t find more than two, three families to run for higher office, that’s silly,” she said last year. “I refuse to accept that this great country isn’t raising other wonderful people.”
Maybe Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey who has been travelling the country and is seen as a Republican moderate? Or Senators Marco Rubio of Florida or Ted Cruz of Texas, darlings of the extreme conservative wing? Those would be fresh faces for Republicans. But would they stand a chance against Hillary Clinton?
In any case, what the Republicans have going for them is that they have a large field of candidates – one that is more qualified than during the last selection process in 2012.
On the Democratic side, it’s an open question who will dare take on the role of challenging Hillary Clinton in the party primary elections – if she chooses to run. The Clinton family, after all, is one of the most powerful political families in the country.
According to projections by Real Clear Politics aggregate studies, the familiar “oldie” Hillary would beat any of seven Republican contenders by 13 per cent or more.