Romney Out, Who Benefits?

by John Fund

Just yesterday a Fox News poll showed Mitt Romney leading all his potential rivals for the GOP presidential nomination. Romney had 21 percent while his closest competitor, Mike Huckabee, had 11 percent.

But Romney must have known much of that support simply represents his nearly universal name recognition and he had few places to go other than down if he actually ran. Nonetheless, Romney committed a rare act of political unselfishness today when he announced he wasn’t running.  

“I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case,” read the statement he released.

Romney, ever the business strategist, had keen insight into how the country is looking for fresh faces, and a contest between the two-time candidate and Hillary Clinton would disadvantage him were he the GOP nominee.

Who benefits from Romney’s withdrawal? Jeb Bush immediately becomes the establishment’s favorite, followed closely by Chris Christie. Other candidates who might be enhanced include Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, a governor with Romney’s appetite for data and policy wonkery. Ohio governor John Kasich may also benefit somewhat from Romney’s exit.

The GOP field looks as if it is now almost set. Even with Romney’s no-go, it looks like it will include a dozen candidates — a competitive smorgasbord the likes of which the party has rarely seen. I firmly believe the competition will be good for the party.

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