Romney 2012?

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Tucker Carlson is convinced he’s already running.

So am I.

Here’s more…

Romney dropped out of the presidential race in February, but he never went away. He quickly became a regular guest on cable news, started a political action committee (which, according to National Review, has already given away more than $200,000 in donations), and this fall began stumping in earnest for various Republican candidates, including John McCain.

In the past four days, Romney has hit nearly a dozen states on behalf of the McCain campaign, but really on his own behalf. This is what groundwork looks like when it’s being laid.

It’s the oldest cliche in politics that the next campaign starts the day after the election, and this year that is especially true on the Republican side. Republicans hate chaos and uncertainty, but after eight years of an unpopular administration,they no longer have the luxury of an orderly succession. As one Republican consultant said to me the other day, come Wednesday morning the party will resemble post-Soviet Afghanistan: “Everybody’s going to declare themselves warlord.”

Still, Carlson thinks Romney will have to wrestle the nomination away from Palin…

At this point, Sarah Palin would seem to have the most powerful arsenal. While Democrats tend to revile their losing candidates, Republicans revere theirs. Losing to Obama and Biden won’t destroy Palin’s reputation within the party. It might enhance it. Palin also has the advantage of being world famous, she’s admired by party activists, and she can draw huge crowds. And unlike Romney, she’ll never be accused of being a phony.

Authenticity was always Romney’s biggest problem. Being a Mormon hurt him with evangelicals, especially in the South. But what sunk Romney was the suspicion that he was playing a part. A self-described free market conservative, as governor of Massachusetts he instituted health care reforms that look very much like what Obama is proposing now. (Anyone who supports Obama’s heath care plan ought to take a look at how Romney’s program is working out. Not well.)

Sure, I think Romney comes off as a phony, but Palin is radioactive at this point and I don’t see her having much of a shot at all in 2012. I know, very presumptive of me, but I still think the economy will be the big issue in 4 years and Romney owns that one. Palin doesn’t have anything but her charm, and even that’s worn thin with a majority of the electorate.

What’s more, if Romney starts running now his persona will start to seem more genuine to the Republican faithful and then he’s off to the races. Sure, Huckabee will still be a formidable opponent, but Huck just can’t swing the moderates his way. However, imagine Huckabee as Mitt’s VP nominee. He’ll have sewn up the base right there.

We shall see…