Mitt Romney concedes there's an infinitesimal chance he'll run again, everyone freak out!

Radio host tricks Mitt Romney into "opening the door" to a 2016 candidacy. Be still, heart!

Published August 27, 2014 5:01PM (EDT)

Mitt Romney                          (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Mitt Romney (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

And the gold star for the day goes to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt! Using the advanced journalistic skill of "baiting the interviewee with ludicrous scenarios and getting him to repeat the interviewer's phrase," Hewitt got Mitt Romney to "open the door," so to speak, to the 2016 presidential candidacy that a full 100 percent of Americans so desperately crave.

Romney told Hewitt that he's not running but that "circumstances can change." Why did he say circumstances can change? Because that's the line Hewitt fed him in concocting his unlikely scenario, in which Romney would have to run to save the country.

HH: Now I’m pressing, and I’m pressing an advantage of long acquaintance, and so forgive me for this, but that’s subject to change, right? People’s candidacies implode, circumstances change. People who organized campaigns approach you. And so I’m not asking you to, I wouldn’t presume to ask you to say yeah, I’m in the race. But circumstances change. And if you thought that in fact it were not that way, that you thought you were the only one who could do this, you’d change your mind, wouldn’t you?

MR: (laughing) I’m not going there, Hugh. I know you’re going to press, but you know, this is something we gave a lot of thought to when early on I decided we’re not going to be running this time. And again, we said look, I had the chance of running. I didn’t win. Someone else has a better chance than I do. And that’s what we believe, and that’s why I’m not running. And you know, circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let my head go there. I remember that great line from Dumb and Dumber, where the…

HH: So you’re telling me I have a chance?

MR: There you go, you remember. You’re telling me I have a chance? That’s one of a million.

So there you go: Mitt Romney admits that "circumstances can change," and in some imaginary world, there is the possibility that Romney could become "the only one who could do this." Suppose an asteroid hit some conference where all the other potential Republican presidential candidates were huddling, at a debate or something. They'd all be wiped out. In such a case, in which all the non-Romney Republican politicians were eliminated due to an outer space freak accident (or a deliberate play from God, depending on how you see it), the circumstances really would have changed and Mitt Romney would have to step up and easily crush Hillary Clinton, for the good of the Republic.

Mitt Romney must haaaate these guys. Hugh Hewitt has long loved Romney, but the other crowd that seems to be interested in a 2016 Romney revival -- rich Wall Street donors, basically -- have not. They spent all of the 2011-2012 primary cycle bitching about how Romney wasn't a strong enough candidate and spent comical amounts of energy trying to draft a Chris Christie or Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan to join the race late, for the good of the country. Now that Romney's outside of politics and can act marginally more like a likable human being, suddenly they're really interested in him running. He seems like a good guy! Who knew?

Does it need to be explained again? Because politics is terrible, people generally like you more when you're outside of politics and speaking honestly. As soon as you reenter politics, and have to hedge on everything, your approval rating plummets. People start talking about certain "47 percent" comments again, and so forth.

In any even, this "circumstances can change" comment should be enough to fill 10 weeks of "Meet the Press" roundtables.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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