The first casualty of the 2016 Republican presidential primary has been revealed to be the winner of the 2012 Republican presidential primary, Mitt Romney. Having only expressed his interest in running about six weeks, the prospective campaign crashed and burned in record time. What might have caused this flame-out?
It is notable that just two weeks ago Rupert Murdoch, the overlord of the Fox News media empire, made public his opposition to a Romney candidacy. Murdoch said of Romney that “He had his chance,” and that he was “a terrible candidate.” Murdoch also was upset at Romney “for failing to deflect criticism that he was ‘super rich.'” That seems like a rather personal complaint by another member of the “super rich” society.
Subsequent to Murdoch’s public letting, some of his minions began to pile on. Fox News contributors Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump all commenced to bashing Romney. And many of the Fox primary pundits are already lining up behind Jeb Bush, who Murdoch virtually endorsed. The conventional “wisdom” on the right is that Bush will benefit most from the Romney withdrawal. That, however, is far from certain as a flurry of other “establishment” GOP governors (Walker, Jindal, Kasich, Christie, Perry) are still competing for support and particularly donors.
It is also notable that Romney’s announcement came just one week after he met privately with Bush in Utah. It is inconceivable that there was not a decision made at or about the time of that highly secretive tryst. Did Bush make Romney an offer he could not refuse?
Romney’s statement outlining his reasons for dropping out reads more like a declaration of candidacy. He says that he is “convinced” that “we could win the nomination,” and that “I would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democrat nominee.” So obviously he’s quitting. It’s a unique position to take since most politicians who actually believed that they would win the nomination and the general election would stay and fight. But not Romney. He went on to deliver what appears to be an anti-Bush sentiment saying…
“I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.”
Who might Romney be talking about? Bush is certainly not one of the next generation, being a veteran Republican pol who would be 64 years old at the start of his first term. And as a member of one of the nations’s most prominent political dynasties, he also could hardly be described as less well known than Romney. Neither is the two-time governor of Florida “just getting started” in politics. So Romney has, in effect, dismissed Bush as the next Republican nominee. And worse, Romney has previously disparaged Bush as facing many of the same obstacles that he faced as a candidate – namely his wealth and elitist status. Romney once said of Bush “You saw what they did to me with Bain [Capital]. What do you think they’ll do to [Bush] over Barclays?”
And that’s it in a wingnut shell. The GOP is cram-packed with rich, privileged insiders who advocate on behalf of their fellow upper-crusters. They will all face the question of allegiance to their high society class to the detriment of the vast majority of Americans. Romney’s absence from the fray doesn’t change any of that. But we know at least one of the fat-cats applauding today’s news is Rupert Murdoch, who is one step closer to crowning his own favorite.
Update: The Ego-tastic Donald Trump is giving himself “full credit” for Romney’s bailout. What a shocker.