As President Trump looks toward reelection in 2020, he will have his eye on the likes of Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and maybe even Oprah Winfrey. I’m sure the Republican Party is already gathering opposition research on each of these Democratic rivals. But it may be that Trump’s biggest challenge will come from someone else. He may never even get to the general election – because of this man. Trump needs to start looking to his left now, because this man may challenge him for the Republican nomination – and win. Who is it?
I offer three reasons to look out for Mitt Romney if your name is Donald Trump.
1. Romney still wants it.
Mitt Romney has made no secret of his disdain for Donald Trump. He says things that sound more like a future candidate than a supporter of the leader of his own party. Why else would he run for the Senate in Utah, as is his plan for 2018? For Mitt Romney to only want the Senate seat – at this stage of his career – would be like Nick Saban applying to be an assistant coach at the University of Florida. Saban only wants to be on top. Romney has done it all, including serving as Governor of Massachusetts. He has nothing else to prove, or accomplish, short of the White House. He still wants it.
2. The Republican Party wants it.
Nothing would bring a broader collective smile to the faces of the Republican Party leadership than for the epitome of the establishment to run for president. Romney has won his party’s nomination before. He has all the right positions. He is steady. No one worries about him saying something crazy. And if the Democratic Party takes over one or both chambers of Congress in 2018, it is Romney – not Trump – who has the experience necessary to work with the other side. That’s exactly what he did in Massachusetts.
3. Many Americans want it.
People are tired of the uncivil nature of modern politics. Mr. Romney is a true gentleman. The masses would celebrate his demeanor. Independents will especially rally behind his centrist-appearing positions and style.
Just one problem
This all sounds good for the Romney Camp. But there’s just one problem. Donald Trump’s supporters are rabid. They will show up in primaries. The genteel nature of Mitt Romney will actually work against him. While he can afford to fund his campaign all the way to the Convention, he will not excite voters. Trump only needs to muster 35 percent of self-identified Republicans to gain 50 percent of the actual Republican vote. His people will turn out to vote.
So what would happen?
It’s hard to say. My guess is that a Romney run would do to Trump what Ted Kennedy did to President Carter in 1980. it will weaken the incumbent president and erode enough of his base to put his general election bid in jeopardy. I don’t think Romney would win the nomination, but he might cause Trump to lose the general election.
There are those who will suggest that is Romney’s main goal anyway. So either way, he wins.