Three days after Mitt Romney said "I want to be president" and revealed that wife Anne and other family members had dropped their objections to his making a third bid, several members of the Republican National Committee gave Newsmax what could at best be called a lukewarm response to a "Romney in '16" campaign.
As they prepared for their winter meeting in San Diego set for Jan. 15-17, many RNC members voiced a neutral stance on the presidential campaign and declined to comment on any of the potential candidates. Asked by Newsmax what he thought of another bid by Romney, California GOP Chairman Jim Brulte replied without hesitation: "I have no position on the 2016 presidential candidates."
Other members, however, made it clear they preferred a fresh face for president in ’16 to Romney, their 2012 nominee against Barack Obama and also a losing candidate for the nomination in ’08.
Many privately believe that with Democrats at this time likely to nominate Hillary Clinton — who lost the nomination to Obama in ’08 and will be 69 at the time of the next presidential election — another nomination for Romney (who will be 67 in '16) would mean loss of the "fresh face" advantage they would have against her with a younger candidate who has not sought the presidency before.
"The third time is rarely a charm in politics," South Carolina State GOP Chairman Matt Moore told us over the weekend. "Governor Romney needs to make his case compared to our other talented candidates. They are not going to hand the nomination to him on a silver platter."
The youngest (32) state chairman of either major party in the U.S., Moore is a solid conservative who once served as his state’s director of the conservative Club for Growth.
His views on Romney running for a third time were echoed by another stalwart conservative, Missouri’s State Chairman Ed Martin.
"Mitt Romney is more conservative than Jeb Bush on illegal immigration and stopping Common Core, so I welcome his influence," said Martin, a past Republican nominee for state attorney general and U.S. House and one-time intern at the Vatican under Pope John Paul II. "However, Romney will have to re-earn the nomination and [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker, [Kentucky Sen.] Rand Paul, [former Texas Gov.] Rick Perry, [former Arkansas Gov.] Mike Huckabee, and [physician] Ben Carson will certainly challenge him."
Other party members did welcome Romney to the race but made it clear it was a foregone conclusion that the former Massachusetts governor would face some spirited competition if he becomes a candidate for nomination.
As California’s Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel told us: "Republicans should welcome Mitt Romney to the race. He adds to the deep and diversified field of champions all working to earn the nomination."
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