The national launch of the “Draft Mitt” movement has been nixed, the Deseret News reported on Thursday, as some of the 2012 GOP presidential candidate’s closest advisers criticized the group.
As TPM reported last month, the Ready for Hillary knockoff had gained some momentum with a slick website and thousands of signatures (up to 115,000, as of Friday). But it was unclear who was running it and one top Romney’s top 2012 adviser, Stuart Stevens, said at the time that he knew nothing about it.
The Deseret News revealed the face behind the movement, Utah Republican State Chairman James Evans. But after pledging “a grander national strategy in the future,” which included an August event in South Carolina, Evans has called those bigger plans off amid anger from Romney’s inner circle.
“The focus needs to be on the midterm elections. That’s what Mitt is doing,” Spencer Zwick, Romney’s former national finance chairman, told the Deseret News. “The organization has no merit. None.”
“This organization has absolutely no bearing on Mitt Romney running for president,” Zwick continued. “He says he’s not running for president and nothing this organization can do will change that.”
Evans said he had spoken with Zwick and scrapped the South Carolina event. The group will continue collecting signatures, according to the News, but it was not clear if they would ever undertake a national campaign after the backlash.
“A national event with media and things like that could very well get in the way and that’s not what we want to do,” Evans told the News. “We have to be mindful and respectful of that and not get in the way of anything Gov. Romney is doing.”