I’m going to start off by saying this is a long shot. A very long shot. But right now if I had to make a list of who is most likely to become President after this election, it would go like this:
1. Hillary Clinton
2. Donald Trump
3. Bernie Sanders
4. Mitt Romney
5. Paul Ryan
As the Sanders campaign gets mathematically eliminated in the delegate count, Romney will move into that #3 spot. And while it is a long shot, he does have a shot, and here is how.
First, after yesterday we can all but guarantee Clinton and Trump will be the nominees of their respective parties. Super Delegates could boost Sanders to the nomination, but it is unlikely. And we could get a brokered convention for the GOP, but again, that is unlikely (although if so, that is why Paul Ryan is on my list). It looks more and more likely that Clinton vs Trump is the November showdown. The winners? Clinton and Trump. The losers? The American people.
Most people know and recognize this. Michael Bloomberg contemplated an independent self-financed campaign for a while, but concluded that he would be giving the presidency to Trump if he did. But Romney? Mitt Romney might be the best positioned to do something truly incredible here.
All of us are sick and tired of the partisan bickering. Democrats and Republicans in politics live for it. The rest of us just want pragmatic leaders who will get stuff done. Clinton is more of the same. She maintains the status quo. Trump is a loose cannon, a wild card of sorts. He would more or less maintain the status quo as well, but his instability could be America’s undoing if the worst situations present themselves. No one really wants them to be President.
So what about a guy who has been here before? What about a guy who was a moderate Republican governor of a very liberal state and showed he could work with the other side and get things done? What about a guy who can self-finance a campaign and not accept corrupt money? That guy is Mitt Romney.
Here is what he needs. First, Clinton and Trump have to win their nominations. He needs to run as an independent candidate. His first step is going to have to be to pick a running mate who is a Democrat to show a willingness to work across the aisle. Being a woman would help, a minority is even better, but the only thing that is necessary is that this person be from a swing state to help in those states.
Charlie Crist comes to mind. He was a Republican that switched. He’s moderate by all accounts. And he is from Florida where he is somewhat well liked. There is Ted Strickland from Ohio. There is Tim Kaine from Virginia. There is Tom Vilsack from Iowa. There are lots of good options out there. He must reach across the aisle and find someone else willing to transcend the petty ideology of partisan politics. It will go a long way.
Second, we need to do some math. You need 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. If no one gets that many, the House of Representatives gets to pick the next president. This is exactly what Romney wants for reasons to come. As it stands, from 2012, Obama had 332 electoral votes. You need to peel away at least 63 of them for one, then you need to win at least one state on your own. Romney is the only one who can do that.
Romney will win Utah and probably Idaho if he runs. That is a total of 10 electoral votes. That is all he needs. If he can play spoiler and get Clinton to lose some states that Obama won, he can ensure no one gets the 270 needed. Here’s where the math comes in.
1. Florida: 29 electoral votes and decided by 70,000 votes in 2012
2. Ohio: 18 electoral votes and decided by 100,000 votes in 2012
3. Virginia: 13 electoral votes and decided by 100,000 votes in 2012
4. New Hampshire: 4 electoral votes and decided by 40,000 votes in 2012
Now add those up. Florida, Ohio and Virginia account for 60 electoral votes. Now you need only New Hampshire… or even just Iowa or Nevada, and Clinton falls just short of 270. As long as four states go for Trump that went for Obama in 2012, and Romney wins just Utah, you’ve got no one hitting 270.
Then what happens? The House of Representatives chooses between those three. Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House and ran with Romney in 2012. Always helps. Each state’s delegation gets one vote and you need 26 to win. 33 states have Republican controlled delegations. 18 are Democrat heavy. Now, almost no one in Washington wants Trump to become President. But they don’t want to risk voting Romney if not enough do and lose to Clinton. At the same time the Democrat controlled states would realize that Clinton can’t possibly win a vote in the GOP heavy House. So in order to prevent a Trump win, they throw all their support to Romney. He also gets Utah and Idaho, states he likely wins. Now he needs just 4 state delegations to go along with him and not Trump.
That’s all it takes and Romney is the next President. Far fetched? Maybe. But he needs to do very little- choose the right running mate, campaign against the status quo and spend all of his time in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Utah. That’s all he needs to do. The other two candidates will be fighting over Missouri, Iowa, Colorado and who knows where else. Romney wouldn’t care. He only needs to peel enough support away from Clinton in 4 states to give them to Trump. Heck, or even take one himself. He has universal appeal across the aisle compared to the alternatives. He may win some swing states for all you know. The important thing is to keep Clinton from winning them is all.
With a targeted message focused on what voters care about in just a few states, Romney can turn this election on its head. Of course, this would give us the great benefit of having the antiquated electoral college system done away immediately as that would be the first law Congress passes under President Romney. And he would sign it. President should be elected by popular vote, period.
So again, far fetched, but who else could pull it off? Only Michael Bloomberg, and he said he is out and has the problem that as a third party candidate he couldn’t actually win a state. The play only works if you can win at least one state. Utah would go for Romney no doubt. He is the only one who could save the country from a Clinton or Trump presidency and give the people what they want. It would be crazy, but then again, Trump is about to become the GOP nominee. It’s just a crazy year.