In modern American politics, it can also describe the strategy of the Bush brothers, George W. in 1999 and Jeb in 2015, of acting quickly and decisively to corner establishment money and talent in the "invisible primary" season.
Never mind all the reasons you've read about why Mitt Romney decided against another presidential run in 2016. He wanted to be the Republican nominee again -- badly. (He still does.) Why else, do you suppose, Romney released that gauzy movie Mitt last year or campaigned so hard for Republican candidates in the midterms? He was hoping, I think, that the party elders would turn to him in the end and plead with him to rescue the GOP in 2016. After all, I'm sure he thought, would else could beat Hillary?
But once again, like in 1999, a member of the Bush family preempted the field by lining up establishment support and crushed Romney in the invisible primary. Ask yourself, how many articles did you read in the last three weeks that were encouraging Romney to run again?
Let's be honest here: Romney didn't drop out "to give other leaders in the party the opportunity
to become our next nominee." He dropped out because he got beat.
In typical Romney-speak, the candidate told supporters, "I am convinced that
we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been
difficult test and a hard fight.”
Translation: I didn't think I could win.
Or as one Romney associate said, “The level of support was broad and deep.”
Translation: The support we had hoped to see just didn't materialize.
I read recently that no one -- no one -- drops out of a presidential race for any other reason than that they think they can't win. The examples the writer gave were of John Thune and Haley Barbour in 2012: the support just wasn't there.
Need further proof that Romney was knocked out of the race by Jeb? How's this:
“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,” Romney
said. “In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.”
Translation: I hope somebody -- anybody! -- besides this a*****e Jeb Bush wins.