Elite GOP establishment figures are reportedly looking to draft Mitt Romney for a last-minute bid for president as they grow increasingly anxious about the unpredictable candidacies of political neophytes Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
Allies of Romney, who lost to President Obama in 2012, have come up with a strategy for the former Massachusetts governor to make a late entry, according to the Washington Post.
They hope he will be able to carry the mainstream GOP banner and get enough moderates on his side to gain the delegates needed to seize the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next summer.
The supporters are plotting this, the paper said, even though Romney has insisted he is not interested in making another run.
“We’re about to step into the holiday-time accelerator,” ex-Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said. “You have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, then Iowa and a week later New Hampshire, and it’s going to be over in the blink of an eye.”
Other Romney supporters, such as 2012 campaign national finance committee member Peter Wish, have been unimpressed with the current GOP front-runners.
“I’m not a happy camper,” Wish told the Washington Post. “Hopefully, somebody will emerge who will be able to do the job.”
The inability of the GOP establishment to coalesce around a candidate is exemplified by the conservative nonprofit Club for Growth’s Super PAC attacking both Carson and Trump in Iowa television ads.
“Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson are in over their heads,” club president David McIntosh told the Washington Post.
Even some big-money donors are still hoping for a candidate who can compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s experienced, well-funded campaign.
“Some of them are in, but too many are still saying, ‘I’ll wait to see how this all breaks,’ ” New York Republican donor Kenneth Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, told the paper.
“People don’t want to write checks unless they think the candidate has a chance of winning.”
He said his job “is to figure out how we get people on the edge of their chairs so they . . . give money.”