Biden’s Kennedy Curse

The real, existing threat from Kennedy is right there, out in the open, staring at Democrats in the face.
The real, existing threat from Kennedy is right there, out in the open, staring at Democrats in the face. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Peter Hamby
November 13, 2023

Mitt Romney, through his Senate office, said Monday that he “is not considering running for president on any ticket” in 2024. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has closely followed Romney’s career. He has already run for president twice, losing both of those campaigns. He recently retired from the Senate, acknowledging his old age (76) and calling for a “new generation” of leaders to step forward. Also, politics these days is an increasingly degrading and undignified avocation, especially for the sort of Republican, like Romney, who views the job as a genuine public service.

But Romney’s statement was a blow to a small group of centrist plotters—mainly donors and a few out-of-touch pundits—who harbor fantasies of a moderate presidential ticket in 2024 that can restore sanity to our polarized political system, and get us back to a time of pre-Trump comity in Washington. Romney would have been one part of that hypothetical centrist dream team, along with retiring West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, or former Maryland governor Larry Hogan, or former Utah governor Jon Huntsman. (If it wasn’t obvious here, diversity is an afterthought in these ranks.)

Romney’s chief of staff, Liz Johnson, issued the statement late last week after the semi-mysterious creation of a “Draft Romney Manchin Committee” with the Federal Election Commission. I say “semi-mysterious” because an operative with plenty of national connections was peddling news of the committee to political reporters last week, who wrote it up just as Romney was telling them to buzz off. According to The Washington Post, the committee was formed by a group of activists who’d hoped to join an effort by the centrist group No Labels to get Romney and Manchin on the ballot in enough states to make them competitive in the Electoral College come next year. Manchin, for his part, is at least entertaining the idea, as he made clear in the video announcing his retirement from the Senate last week.