Report: Mitt Romney Placing Calls to Build 2016 Coalition

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Washington, DC

Reportedly telling one senior Republican he “almost certainly will” run for the Republican nomination in 2016, Mitt Romney is said to be spending his time using the phone to re-establish past relationships to that end, as well as engaging in a bit of fence mending.

It’s said he placed a call for Newt Gingrich, among others, in that regard. Certainly, with Jeb Bush seemingly already in and a host of other likely candidates, Romney may not have a lot of time to spare, given that he wasn’t considered a serious contender by most until just recently.

Romney is said to be looking to carve out a position to the right of Jeb Bush, given Bush’s weak position on illegal immigration, education, and other issues of importance to the party’s base.

Over the past few days, Romney has been in touch with an array of key allies to discuss his potential 2016 campaign, according to people with knowledge of the calls. They include Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), his former vice presidential running mate; former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (R); Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman; former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown; former Missouri senator Jim Talent; and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

In the conversations, Romney has said he is intent on running to the right of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who also is working aggressively to court donors and other party establishment figures for a 2016 bid. Romney has signaled to conservatives that, should he enter the race, he shares their views on immigration and on taxes — and that he will not run from party orthodoxy.

It’s also being reported that Romney recently and informally talked politics with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.

“He was relaxed, reflective and was interested in hearing my thoughts on the American working class,” Ingraham said in an e-mail Monday. “He was fully engaged and up to speed on everything happening on domestic and international front. To me it didn’t seem like he was content to be just a passive player in American politics.”

Whatever his reasoning, the intent of this latest and longish piece on Romney via the Washington Post seems pretty clear—Mitt Romney very much wants people to see him as in the race for the GOP nomination. Whether they like what they see any more than they have in the past is still unclear.

Gingrich said he told Romney, “There are no frontrunners” in the 2016 race. “We have runners, but no frontrunners.”

Romney is measuring how much of his old operation would remain in what would be his third try for the presidency. As of Monday, he had secured the backing of two New Hampshire-based advisers, Thomas D. Rath and Jim Merrill, should Romney formally launch a campaign.

“He called me right after the Patriots beat the Ravens, so we were both in good moods,” Merrill said. “It was a good conversation. He was very clear that he is seriously considering a run. I’ve been with Mitt Romney since March 2006, so if he decides to do it, I’ll be there for him.”

Rath, a former New Hampshire state attorney general, concurred in a separate interview. “I’ve been with Mitt Romney for eight years,” Rath said. “If he’s in, I’ll make the coffee or drive the car — whatever he needs.”

Romney is intent on swiftly rebuilding his past political infrastructure in New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary and which ignited his 2012 campaign when he finished first in a crowded Republican field.