A lot of people I talk to are confused as to the point of Mitt Romney's speech today. They wonder why he would announce a major speech, and then declare that he wasn't announcing a third party candidacy, but really only giving an anti-Trump speech. What's the point of that? Plenty of other people have given and can give anti-Trump speeches, after all.
The reality is that Romney is smart and savvy enough to know that if he is going to run third party, he can't just jump back into the news cycle cold. He knows that first, he has to make people remember him and to make the press take notice of his existence. Otherwise, any third party announcement would fall flat.
That's why Romney has been slowly reintroducing himself to the news cycle.From where I sit, he has clearly been setting himself up for a possible run for weeks, reading the writing on the wall about Trump being the possible nominee. That's what the trolling of Trump on his taxes was all about - it's not that Romney cares about taxes, it's that he wants himself in the news. Same thing about this speech today.
And the thing about Romney is, he's been perfectly happy to not be in the news since his 2012 loss. So the fact that he's aggressively trying to place himself back in it means, in all likelihood, that he has something planned. And the most likely explanation for that plan involves a third party run.
Make no mistake, if Romney wants to run third party, he can do it. He has access to a basically bottomless well of donors, and there are plenty of vehicles like the Constitution Party that have ballot access on all fifty states that he can piggyback onto (and that would be more than happy for the exposure and the chance at 5% matching funds). The question right now is if someone prominent enough wants to take the plunge.
I don't have contacts close to Mitt Romney these days but it sure looks like that's what he's doing. Today's speech isn't about attacking Trump. It's about setting himself up to be the possible third party guy if Trump does get the nomination, and managing the news cycle to maximize the splash of such an announcement.