Capitol Hill: Mixed Feelings on Mitt Romney 2016

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman
Washington, DC

ABC News opted to take an informal survey of Capitol Hill reactions to Mitt Romney’s recent claim that he’s going to run for the GOP nomination again in 2016.

They’ve broken it down into what they identify as die-hards, those keeping their options open, and his potential competition for the nomination.

Evidently, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is on board. He “told the Washington Post, he spoke with Romney over the past few days and said he would support the former Massachusetts governor if he officially declares his candidacy.” Chaffetz stated, “The country has buyer’s remorse and Mitt Romney has been proven right, particularly on foreign policy.”

Chaffetz went so far as to take a swipe at Jeb Bush.

“Regardless of what Mitt Romney does, I don’t know how excited anybody could be with Jeb Bush’s candidacy,” Chaffetz told the Washington Post. “I want to win the White House and I don’t like the idea of another Bush-Clinton race. Been there, done that.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) counts himself on Team Mitt, as well. However, not every previous Mitt supporter feels the same way.

“Well, I’ll let him make that decision but there’ll be a lot of candidates who will be making announcements in the coming months,” House Speaker John Boehner said at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday. “And it’s a very open process. May the best person win.”

“I certainly have a lot of respect. I think he hasn’t decided yet, so I look forward to talking to each of the candidates,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said. “Most importantly, I want them to talk to my constituents and have to answer the tough questions that they will ask them.”

“We’ve got a lot of good candidates in the mix. He’d be another one. I think he’d be a great candidate and he’s got a lot of support around the country,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said. “I think it’ll be a spirited primary and I think we’ll end up with a good candidate.”

And then there are some who may see themselves as his potential competition.

“If he ran, he’d also be a very formidable candidate. He’s run twice before. Obviously he has another national network of donors that he can tap into, has experience running in these races,” Rubio said in an interview with Yahoo! News’ Katie Couric. “The good news about the Republican Party is that we have so many people who could be very credible candidates and formidable candidates. The democrats apparently only have one.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on the other hand, was a little more blunt in his response, saying a Romney candidacy is “mushy” and a recipe for a loss.

“There are a lot of folks in Washington who argue that the way Republicans should win is that we should nominate a candidate from the mushy middle,” Cruz said in a FOX News interview. “But we keep trying the theory and it keeps not working. Every single time we do that – whether it’s Gerald Ford, whether it’s Bob Dole, whether it’s John McCain or whether it’s Mitt Romney, the result over and over again is we lose.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said he thinks it’s time to head in a new direction.

“Look, I like Governor Romney, I like him personally, I think he is a good person, I think he was a great businessman,” Paul said in an interview with FOX News radio. “But you know that’s yesterday’s news.”

There were other reactions, as well. It looks like it’s game on for 2016 despite being only a few short months away from the nation’s last election.

“I think that Mitt Romney is a person who’s dedicated to serving the country. I think he is a fine and decent American. I think he has a reservoir of support, and I certainly respect any decision that he might make,” [Sen John] McCain said.

“My illegitimate son Lindsey Graham is exploring that option,” McCain added. “I am strongly encouraging Senator Lindsey Graham particularly with the world the way it is today.”