Mitt Romney: Zombie Candidate for 2016?

Chances are, the last time you saw Mitt Romney it was when he was on TV giving his concession speech or, days later, when a photo of the disheveled looking former presidential candidate was snapped as he pumped his own gas. This, it seemed, is what it looks like when someone’s political career is over. When they don’t care anymore if their hair is perfect, if their face is stuck in a perma-grin, or if they’re stuck doing menial chores that they wouldn’t have had to do as leader of the free world. “Are you happy now?” The picture seemed to ask, “You won’t have old Mitt Romney to kick around anymore.”

Mitt Romney's Mental Health?And yet, here we are less than two years away from the run up to another Presidential election and it seems that same Mitt Romney is making moves to come back from the dead for one last run at the White House. Well, even if he isn’t shambling around the countryside, there’s at least some indistinct moaning and scratching at the doors of the crypt.

There’s a Netflix documentary out now, called Mitt, which makes the bold move of portraying Romney as something other than a soulless automaton. There’s also the fact that Romney has gained some attention for his impressive fund-raising efforts for mid-term candidates in this year’s election. His reason for success in those efforts is the same reason his name is being talked about in relation to the Presidency: he remains the closest thing the GOP has to an elder statesmen.

His former campaign advisers swear that he’s not running, but at this stage that means next to nothing. If another viable Republican candidate doesn’t emerge soon, Romney may feel like he has no choice. Because, really, the fact that there’s a chance that Mitt “Binders Full of Women” Romney has another shot at the GOP nomination says a lot more about the state of the Republican Party than it does about Romney himself.

Chris Christie seemed to be on the verge of taking a real leadership role in the party until he got embroiled in that bridge scandal, but I’m sure no one will hold that against him. Right? Who among us hasn’t shut down traffic to get revenge on a political enemy?

Rand Paul is generating a lot of buzz for 2016 as well, but there are perhaps too many people in the old guard who wouldn’t like somebody who could reasonably be called a Libertarian leading the party. Marco Rubio seems like a fresh new face, but that inexperience will be weighed against him, and his stance on immigration counters the whole “keep ‘em out at all costs” party-line. Jeb Bush might make a run, mostly thanks to name recognition, but he might meet resistance from people who haven’t gotten any friendlier with his older brother since he left office.

It’s not as if Romney stands clearly ahead of all of these potential candidates, but the field is enough of a mess that he isn’t out of the conversation entirely. Furthermore, it’s not as if getting elected after losing would be unprecedented, either. Richard Nixon lost a Presidential and gubernatorial election before he became President. Conservative demigod Ronald Reagan lost to Gerald Ford in the primaries before he was elected four years later. It wouldn’t be completely crazy if this kind of thing happened again.

But perhaps more important is the fact that Romney’s economic policies are a perfect match with the prevailing opinion within the GOP. If the GOP were to conjure up a made-to-order candidate for economic policy, they would get Romney. He’s still really rich and is all about deregulation and regressive policies, as he has been throughout his career. People like the Koch brothers, the kind of donors who make or break elections, are all about that kind of economic record. After all, if there’s one thing that could make Romney rise from the dead, it has to be money.