In all of the hubbub around the announcement that Mitt Romney would not campaign for president this year, the news media overlooked the highly probable scenario that this announcement will ultimately produce. That is that the former 2012 GOP front man will in all likelihood be the second fiddle on the 2016 GOP ticket.
Odds are that Mitt Romney will be the choice of the next GOP nominee as his or her running mate. Considering the growing blow-back against President Obama as he winds down his second disastrous term in office, America should get used to hearing "Vice President Romney."
Some may greet this news with incredulity. After all, didn't Romney decline to run for president again exactly because he lost the last election that was very winnable? Why would any GOP nominee want a prior loser on his or her ticket? The answer is: pragmatic politics.
First, let's remember that despite perceptions, Romney was polling in the lead of early polls at around 25%, with many other potential candidates on the list. Romney's fundraising machine still had the potential to deliver again as well. Despite his defeat and withdrawal from this race, Romney is still constantly a major focus in the media as well (see: Romney Aide: Obama Adviser Is Lying About 2012 Concession Call).
Nonetheless, Romney saw enough reasons to not run, not the least of which may have been his disinterest in subjecting himself to the humiliating and grueling campaign process he has experienced before.
As it relates to the next GOP nominee, the compelling reason for considering Romney at the very top of his or her VP list has to do with the numbers in a general election campaign. Sixty one million people pulled the lever for Mitt Romney in 2012. How many people do you know were listed on a national ticket recently that got that many votes and will be available again to be on a national ticket?
Also, how many of the 65 million people who voted for Barack Obama do you suppose now wish they had voted for Romney? Nostalgic nonsense perhaps, but many swing votes in the middle certainly smart from buyer's remorse today.
With so many GOP candidates in the race this year, you could easily say that if an establishment candidate emerges as the victor, then he would not likely turn to an establishment player to join him on the ticket. Don't count on that, as he will also see Romney as a team player who will not one-up the big man at the top of the ticket. Romney will know his proper place.
What about if the GOP nominates a conservative, a constitutionalist who will work to rescue the union from runaway debt and federal spending (which will hopefully be the case)? Then again, that nominee may pragmatically seek a running mate to trump swing voters considering Hillary Clinton as the first woman president.
Sure, conservatives would rightly be up in arms about a Romney VP pick, but Reagan picked an establishment player for his ticket and it worked for him (to the dismay of Reagan’s fellow conservatives for sure).
Certainly, Mitt Romney's failings as a candidate comprise a long list. Yet his positions on many issues, including the fight against terror, immigration (where he staked out what was perceived as the most extreme position among his GOP competitors of supporting self-deportation), and tax and spending by the feds have proven right since he lost the general election in 2012.
Do not misinterpret this prediction as advocating for Romney as the next VP nominee. He said himself last week that it is time for a new generation of leaders to step up this time, and heaven knows we need an outsider to come in and reform the swamp that has become our nation's capital. Yet it will be very tempting for the next nominee to seek comfort in a ticket mate that has been vetted (far greater than the sitting president) and is familiar and likable to an electorate that includes many regretful voters.
Perhaps Romney will be the wisest of all candidates for not running this year. He can sit and watch the circus come to town and wait by the phone that is very likely to ring next year with a request to be named to the GOP ticket where voters are familiar with seeing his name before.