DAYTON, OH—Claiming that running for president of the United States is all he knows, Republican nominee Mitt Romney has confided to aides that he is terrified of what will happen to him if he ever stops campaigning for the highest office in the land, sources confirmed Friday.
“Seeking the presidency is something I’ve basically been doing my whole life, and it’s the only thing I’ve been doing for the past eight years,” Romney reportedly told his closest advisers. “In less than two weeks, that’ll all be over. Win or lose, I have to stop running. No more crisscrossing the country from fundraiser to fundraiser, no more early morning strategy meetings to decide what voters need to hear from me today.”
“What happens when it’s Nov. 7, I wake up, and I’m not running for president—what then?” Romney added. “Will I still pivot to my talking points when I get off-message? Oh, God, will I even have talking points? What will I talk about? Somebody, please tell me what I’m supposed to do.”
Several staffers acknowledged that in the past month they have received panicked phone calls from Romney in the middle of the night, with the distressed GOP candidate worrying aloud about what will happen to him when there are no more campaign stops to hit, and speculating wistfully about what waits for him at “the end of the trail.”
According to sources, Romney has dwelled on the issue obsessively since the Republican National Convention in August, turning over and over in his head the options that will remain open to him when election season draws to a close.
“Who knows, if I lose this year, maybe I could still try again in 2016,” Romney was overheard saying on his campaign bus, speaking to no one in particular. “There’s nothing wrong with trying three times, right? I mean, they probably wouldn’t give me the nomination again, but surely I could still get on the ballot for the primaries. That’s where most of the action is at anyway.”
“And hey, if I win this November, maybe I can just get started right away on my reelection bid,” he continued. “There are a few months between the election and the inauguration, so I could use that time to really get out there, hit the road, start shaking some hands, and set things rolling for Romney 2016.”
The former Massachusetts governor then reportedly broke down in tears upon contemplating “the inescapable reality” that if he wins the White House this year and again in 2016, he will then be constitutionally prohibited from ever running for president again.
“What am I without this, goddamn it? Who am I?” Mr. Romney said. “I’ve spent all these years running for this office, but now that the presidency is almost within my grasp, I feel like running from it. Because if I get it, what else is left for me? What else is out there?”
Aides confirmed Romney’s affected folksy demeanor and diet of local diner fare have become so routine he has lost his ability to function as a non-candidate. Apart from luncheons with wealthy donors and weekend TV interviews, they said, the Republican candidate is entirely incapable of engaging in regular human social interaction.
Indeed, the Republican nominee’s ability to communicate with other human beings has now reportedly been reduced to a handful of stock phrases aimed at appealing to undecided middle-class voters.
“Gov. Romney has little to no experience talking to normal people without asking for either their vote or their donations,” said Glenn Hubbard, chief economic adviser to the campaign. “This is going to be tough for him.”
“Really tough,” Hubbard added after a long pause.
At press time, sources said Romney’s wife, Ann, was consoling her husband, reminding him that if it comes down to it, they have enough money to stay on the campaign trail every day of every year and spend the rest of their natural lives running for president.