In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Who Are The Mysterious Forces Behind The 'Draft Mitt' Movement?

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Which begs the question: Who's running this conservative (and low-budget) version of Ready for Hillary? That's the rub: Nobody seems to know.

It has a professional website (not paid for by Mitt Romney, as it makes very clear) and growing following. The number of signatures stood in the mid-10,000's when TPM first visited last month; now it's approaching 30,000.

But nobody is taking credit.

Contacted by TPM via its Facebook page (more than 1,000 likes, joined Facebook on May 14, 2014), an anonymous presence behind the site replied, saying the group "consists largely of former Romney campaign workers and donors."

But the respondent didn't identify him- or herself and didn't respond to TPM's follow-up requests for comment.

WhoIs.net reveals that DraftMitt.org was registered on Jan. 26, 2014. But not much beyond that. Whoever registered it did so through a GoDaddy.com proxy specifically designed to protect the privacy of its users.

"We will be employing a grander national strategy in the future," the persona of DraftMitt.org said through the Facebook account.

At least one top Romney 2012 senior adviser was clearly perplexed. Stuart Stevens told TPM via email: "Don't know a thing about it and haven't talked to anyone who does."

But there is documented evidence of a Mitt Romney 2016 constituency in the wild. An Associated Press reporter in New Hampshire, tweeting from an event Wednesday in which Romney endorsed Senate candidate Scott Brown, shared this brief encounter:

That latter line might sound discouraging to the people behind the Draft Mitt movement. But maybe not. After all, Romney doesn't actually rule out himself as that someone who can win. And there are plenty of high-profile endorsers, aside from anonymous Internet organizers, who have expressed interest in another go.

The Washington Post reported last month on a donor summit that Romney hosted and the "longing for Romney to run again" it found there. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough reportedly urged the creation of a Draft Romney effort. (Hmmmm?) A billionaire donor as well a Reagan White House secretary of state said they were onboard. As was former Montana governor and Democrat Brian Schweitzer.

“He would be a giant in a field of midgets," Schweitzer told reporters.

And, hey, a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that 45 percent of Americans believe the country would be better off if Romney were president, versus 38 percent who said it would be worse off.

When DraftMitt.org hand-delivers Romney the signatures they've gathered, as the site promises to do, the twice-failed presidential candidate might have a real decision to make.

Image credit: DraftMitt.org

About The Author

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Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.