It seems that the 2012 Republican fantasy candidate obsession was not limited to pundits:
Republican governors and other party elders grew so alarmed by Mitt Romney’s inability to defeat Rick Santorum mid-way through the Republican primaries that they secretly hatched a “white-knight scenario” to draft a savior candidate, according to a new book.
The report details the efforts of Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels to recruit someone extremely late in the process to block both Romney and Santorum. It’s not surprising that there were no takers for such an obviously doomed bid, but the funny part is that many of the people pushing for a fantasy candidate were themselves fantasy candidates at one point in the cycle. Based on their experiences and reservations about running as declared candidates the year before, they should have known better than anyone why it would have been idiotic to jump into the race in February 2012. As the story explains, first Barbour tried to get Christie and Daniels to run to no avail, and then Daniels tried to get Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan into the race. All of these efforts predictably failed, because each fantasy candidate knew better than the people trying to recruit him that it would be useless to pursue the nomination in the first place.
This passage sums up just how silly the search for a “white knight” became:
One day, Daniels sent a text message to Ryan asking him to call him, and a few seconds later the congressman rang.
“Paul! Oh, hey! Didn’t expect you so quick!” Daniels said, quickly making his pitch to Ryan, according to the book. Then Ryan sighed, telling Daniels he thought he was calling to tell him he was going to run, the authors write.
It’s not surprising that no one wanted to take on a role of “white knight” in a nomination contest that was already well underway, but even if someone had been foolish enough to agree to do this it probably would have had no effect on the eventual outcome. Any candidate joining the race in late February would have faced huge obstacles to getting on ballots and running competitively in the remaining races, and he would have been in no position to win the nomination. Anyone who agreed to be the “white knight” would have become a losing candidate and a laughingstock in short order.