Allies and donors are thrilled about the idea of Mitt Romney's "almost certain" run
for the presidency, but dozens of Republican activists, elected officials and donors have told The New York Times
that they are lukewarm to the idea.
"People say he is a very fine man, but he had his chance," former Oklahoma GOP Gov. Frank Keating told the Times. "I think they're looking over his shoulder at the next attractive candidates."
Some interviewed by the Times are concerned that the issues that plagued Romney in the 2012 cycle will continue to be vulnerabilities if he chooses to mount a 2016 bid.
Specifically, opponents lambasted his business background and seeming inability to connect with working-class and minority voters.
"He got defined early, after he got through the nomination process, and they spent a lot of money to define him," South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune told the Times. "And those issues are still there. That doesn't change, and that narrative is still out there."
Romney's advisers reject the idea that his time has passed.
"If that's the case, then Ronald Reagan never would have become president," Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's longtime spokesman, told the Times. "Reagan ran three times. Mitt learns from experience. If he does run, he will run his strongest campaign yet."
But even Romney supporters acknowledge that there is a disconnect between activists and the affluent network of donors who are so eager for him to run, the Times said. Some conservative activists feel he is too moderate while others do not believe he could win.
Fehrnstrom said, however, that a third campaign would be different.
"Of all the potential candidates looking at the race, only Mitt Romney has proven that he can raise the billion dollars or more that would be needed, and he is the only one who is a proven vote-getter in a national race."
The Times noted that a number of polls show Romney leading the pack. A Townhall poll
released Tuesday had Romney leading former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 21 percent compared to 14 percent.
Since Romney told a group of donors on Friday that he was seriously considering a run
, his team has been contacting previous supporters and also vetting possible campaign managers, the Times reported. A number of former staffers and supporters have already pledged their support.
Nevertheless, there have not been any Republican senators who have publicly said they would support him, potentially because it is so early but also because there is some reluctance, the Times said.
"I would be surprised if he gets much traction," Mark Lundberg, chairman of the Sioux County Republican Party in Iowa, told the Times.
And since Romney made his announcement, there has been jockeying among strategists and donors who are torn about who they would support if both Bush and Romney were in the race, the Times reported.
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