I mean no offense. I’ve had a positive opinion of you for quite some time, one which was strengthened in 2012 as I learned more about you and anticipated having you as our next President. To be sure, I supported Rick Santorum in the primaries, but I thought you would make a good President too. It’s really too bad you weren’t given the chance to prove it; the country would be better off if you were at the helm, instead of President Obama, right now. But please, I’m writing to suggest to you that once is enough. Actually, no, twice – you also ran in 2008 but didn’t get the nomination. Well, in 2012 you did. And unfortunately for all of us, you lost. But now it’s time to step aside and let a new face take the lead.
Maybe that’s what you’re planning on doing. Maybe you’re just being coy, refusing to commit yourself publicly to standing on the sidelines until you have to next year, as many politicians are wont to do. But maybe you’ve seen how wide-open the race seems to be, and how you have a clear lead over the entire field of potential candidates right now, and you’re thinking, This might be worth another shot. Especially if Ann supports it.
Now, I don’t know if Ann supports it or not. She seemed to suggest that it’s a possibility in a recent interview – especially if Jeb Bush doesn’t run. But don’t fool yourself. And don’t let others fool you. Your current lead in the polls is due to the fact that you have plenty of name recognition and already ran for President. So these primary voters not only know of you but already voted for you at least once. Naturally, you would win the lion’s share of support when placed next to these “hmm, I don’t know much about him” candidates. It doesn’t mean that the voters have “seen the light” and are ready to let you cruise to the nomination. Far from it. The bench of potential candidates (see the header on this blog) is far deeper and more promising than it was prior to the 2012 race. Not all of the names in the header would make good candidates. But a lot of them would. And that’s one reason that you should step aside. Let these talented new faces lead the GOP, hopefully to victory, in this next cycle. As argued by Ramesh Ponnuru here, by the next election the Democrats will have been in power 8 years. That fact should make the American public, never very enamored with its politicians, receptive to the message that “it’s time for a change.” The best candidate to deliver this message would be a fresh face with fresh ideas, and the nominee of the last election cycle – who also ran 8 years earlier – will probably not be the most effective messenger. (This could also be an argument against Jeb Bush, but at least he himself has never had a chance to present himself and his ideas to the American people).
I have seen reports that people close to you would eagerly support you in another race for the White House. But don’t let them get you excited. These people have been loyal to you for years, and your loss in 2012 would have been crushing. They would naturally love to get a second chance to right the wrongs of 2012. (Or maybe they just want more fees). But outside your circle of loyalists, things may be different.
Another reason not to run was articulated by Ross Douthat. Outside of your inner circle, the main reason your name is still being heard is that there is sort of a void in the traditional moderate-conservative section of the candidates, where Republican presidential nominees traditionally come from. Not only that, but there is no front-runner, period, and for some reason, some Republicans seem uneasy with that. Someone will have to win the nomination, so why not support the familiar name – the one who’s done it before, so he could do it again? As Douthat says, it’s a pretty ridiculous case. And when it comes down to it, your resume, while impressive in many ways, doesn’t fit what the GOP needs at this point. A wealthy white businessman doesn’t offer much in the way of the demographics gap (winning more minority, young, female, and/or working class voters), just like last election. Douthat says there are other potential candidates that offer more in the way of innovative policy proposals (this was one reason you put Paul Ryan on your ticket last election, I believe); you may agree or disagree with that, as no politician likes to think that he has a boring platform. But furthermore, there are also other candidates whose personal biographies and/or charisma are more likely to capture the hearts and minds of voters.
Once again, please, I mean no offense. I was proud to vote for you in 2012 and I appreciate the sacrifices you and your family made to allow you to make your run. I also appreciate the rest of your service to your country, including your campaigning for candidates in the midterm elections. But please, don’t heed the misguided advice of others. Let someone else take the party’s mantle in 2016.