On the 13th anniversary of the largest foreign terrorist attack on American soil — not to mention the day after President Barack Obama explained to the American people that the country will once again engage in major military actions in Iraq — Robert C. O'Brien and Hugh Hewitt argued in Politico Magazine that no one was more equipped to the lead the country through the current foreign and domestic turbulence than Mitt Romney.
"Maybe he wasn’t a natural pol, but after six years of national campaigning, his speeches and rallies in the waning days of the 2012 campaign had a Reaganesque feel," they argued. "This summer, as he campaigns around the country for GOP congressional candidates, his confidence and skill on the trail are unmatched by anyone other than Barack Obama or Bill Clinton."
At the time of the article's publication, O'Brien and Hewitt were being openly speculative, interpreting even the most ambiguous statements from Romney's camp to mean there was still a slight chance he could step in.
On Wednesday, however, The Washington Examiner ran a report suggesting that Camp Romney is taking a 2016 run more seriously than they previously let on.
"Romney is talking with advisers, consulting with his family, keeping a close eye on the emerging ’16 Republican field, and carefully weighing the pluses and minuses of another run," The Examiner's Byron York wrote. "That doesn't mean he will decide to do it, but it does mean that Mitt 2016 is a real possibility."
York's article has set off a firestorm of speculative writing as to why Romney is likely to run for a third time. Here, we've compiled the five most prominent reasons.
A lot of very important Republicans want him to run again
"Romney is known to practically every Republican voter and already has relationships with most of the party's leading donors," Vox's Andrew Prokop wrote on Friday.
Not only do voters and donors know him, many have already been vocal of their support for a potential candidacy.
James Evans, Utah's chairman of the Republican Party, went as far as to launch a campaign hoping to convince Romney to run again (something that Romney thought was taking away from his efforts to support mid-term candidates, the Deseret News reported in July).
Also among the supporters for another run is his former running mate Paul Ryan, who has been vocal about his admiration for Romney. "I think he'd make a phenomenal president. He has the intellect, the honor, the character and the temperament to be a fantastic president," Ryan said on CBS' Face the Nation in August.
"I will tell you personally, not based on knowledge. I think it would be a smart move to look at it and consider running," Steve Duprey, a Republican committeeman from New Hampshire told The Christian Science Monitor in August. "I think if there’s anyone who would have an easier go of winning the nomination, it would be him. The more you do it, the better you get at it."
Name recognition is half the battle
Which leads us to the next point: The fact that people know who Mitt Romney is means a potential Romney run would start with a huge advantage.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll from April, for example, concluded that "In the GOP, each of the current leaders has name recognition." Whether it's because they have a last name already associated with presidential politics (Rand Paul's father has run more than once, and Jeb Bush's brother and father have both occupied the White House) or because they have run in the past (Mike Huckabee ran in 2008 and Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney's vice presidential nominee in 2012) the moral of the story is that running is easier if people already know your name.
That's one reason why many have already labeled Hillary Clinton as the defacto nominee on the Democratic ticket. "Hillary Clinton is currently the best known and best liked of 16 potential 2016 presidential candidates," a Gallup poll from July found, and the Republicans are well aware that many of the media darlings of recent months can't even hope to come close to the recognition Clinton has garnered.
Which is probably why a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that voters favor Romney as the Republican nominee by a wide margin.
Americans like him more than they used to (kind of)
Speaking of polls, Romney has enjoyed rather glowing headlines as of late, declaring that Americans are feeling "buyers remorse" in the wake of the 2012 election.
A headline-grabbing poll by CNN and ORC International released in June found that 53 percent of those polled would vote for Romney if the election were held today.
"No one should mistake regret for support," The Federalist's Ben Domenech wrote Thursday, but it's hard to imagine better press for a candidate than "we wish we voted for you."
The 2016 election will likely be focused around foreign policy
"The world really is a disaster, and Romney cares deeply about foreign policy — it’s been the focus of much of what he’s said and written since 2012," O'Brien and Hewitt wrote in their piece for Politico.
Not only does Romney care about foreign policy — something he demonstrated recently in an op-ed for The Washington Post, where he argued that the president's decision to downsize the military was "ludicrous" — but voters are once again listing foreign affairs and security as a top priority.
"A large majority of Americans think the world is a more dangerous place than it was several years ago," a Pew report from August found. Something that Romney echoed in his op-ed for the Washington Post.
Romney's views on foreign policy have also won favor with the public in recent months, due to his labelling of Russia as America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe" during the 2012 election. He was largely ridiculed by the press and his political opponents, but a Pew poll from July shows that a majority of Americans think he was right.
The Republicans need a strong candidate
Beyond simply name recognition and political connections, Republican strategists have lamented the lack of "electability" among the Republicans most associated with 2016.
As The New York Times's Ross Douthat wrote on Thursday, "moderate-conservative space suddenly looks emptier than it usually does," now that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey seems out of the picture. Much of the hype surrounding the Washington Examiner article stems from the assertion that Romney will only run if Jeb Bush decides not to. And as of right now, insiders are doubting Bush's interest in running in a party that Politico claims has moved "decidedly to Bush’s right especially on immigration and education."
"It's still possible that one of (the other Republican) candidates could manage to become the establishment choice," Vox's Andrew Prokop wrote."But it hasn't happened yet. Which means Romney has an opening to become the pick of the establishment, or at least a substantial piece of it."