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I had no idea what selfless and ambition-free man Mitt Romney was until I read about Dan Balz's new book on the 2012 presidential campaign.
Over the Christmas break of 2010, Mitt Romney and his family took an internal poll on whether he should run for president once more. Twelve family members cast ballots. Ten said no. One of the 10 was Mitt Romney himself.
If that's a story we are to believe, it turns out that Mitt Romney ran for president against his own wishes. I'd say that was implausible, but then again, we're talking about the guy who invented Obamacare and then made repealing it the centerpiece of his campaign.

So, let's suspend disbelief and pretend that Mitt really did vote against himself. If that was the case, then why did he end up running? According to the book:

In an interview with Balz that's placed at the very end of "Collision 2012," Romney explained that he ultimately decided to run when he saw the other (leaving-something-to-be-desired) candidates in the GOP field.

"I didn't think that any one of them had a good chance of defeating the president," he told Balz, "and in some cases I thought that they lacked the experience and perspective necessary to do what was essential to get the country on track."

Fortunately for Romney, he'd been running for president since 2006 (apparently against his wishes), so when he decided that he was the One True Choice for 2012, he was able hit the ground at full speed. As we now know, Romney won the nomination, and at least from his perspective, his campaign was going splendidly—right up to Election Day.

Sure, everybody outside the Republican bubble knew he was toast, but apparently Romney—and his running mate Paul Ryan—were absolutely convinced they were winning. When they lost, they were genuinely shocked. But two months later, Romney told Balz the thing that upset him most about losing was that it probably meant the end of the road for country he loves so passionately:

"I'm fearful that unless we change course, if we keep borrowing a trillion dollars a year, this is -- we're walking along a precipice," Romney told Balz. "I can't tell you we'll fall over it ... But as a guy who's occasionally walked the mountains, I don't like to walk along the precipice. I like to walk back from the precipice."
Fortunately, the story has a happy ending for all involved. Mitt Romney finally got his wish: He's not president and doesn't ever need to worry about running again. And despite his defeat, the country is not on the brink of collapse: Our deficit is now below $1 trillion for the first time since before Bush's final year in office. So the country will survive, and Mitt can spend time with his family.

It's a true win-win. Except for the part where Mitt lost.

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