No Mitt Romney 3.0.
No "third time's a charm." No invoking Ronald Reagan's two failed presidential campaigns.
No 47%, car elevators or dog on the roof. No Bain Capital. No Olympics.
The media can say goodbye to a plethora of story lines as it prepares to cover the 2016 presidential race.
But other than mourning the (substantial) loss of some well-tread fodder, the announcement that Mitt Romney will not be running for president a third time does little to change the 2016 outlook for Republicans. There's still an establishment candidate in Jeb Bush, if he runs. And the rest of the very deep Republican bench -- with the possible exceptions of Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Chris Christie -- would have run whether Romney was in it or not.
But the absence of Romney in the field is a big loss for Democrats, who were not-so-secretly hoping he'd throw his hat in one more time.
Proof that they were salivating over the opportunity was President Obama's open mockery of Romney at Thursday night's speech to House Democrats:
"We've got a former presidential candidate on the other side who suddenly is just deeply concerned about poverty. That's great! Let's go! Come on! Let's do something about it!"
It's pretty rich that the sitting president who has presided over a widening of the income gap
and a worsening of poverty would take a shot at anyone else who tried to offer solutions. And he wasn't alone. Obama's former campaign advisers, as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and plenty others in the media piled on the criticism of Romney's anti-poverty message.
Again, Democrats can't brag that their policies have helped. And, they could very well nominate another multimillionaire who has had just as much difficulty explaining her wealth to ordinary Americans in Hillary Clinton.
So on its face, it would seem a dangerous gamble to attack Romney for trying to address poverty. But that's how confident Democrats are that their 2012 narratives successfully and decisively defined Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat. Yes, they are living in glass houses -- and they are stockpiling stones.
I've heard from dozens, if not hundreds of people who watched the Netflix documentary "Mitt" and said, if only we'd seen that Romney in 2012. But that's just it -- the Mitt that actually exists, the one we see in the film and know off the campaign trail, is no match for the Mitt that the left has created. It is written. It is fact. It is history.
It's also a shame, because the Mitt that actually exists would have been a formidable candidate and might have been a great president.
But it's a lesson to the rest of the 2016 Republican field : Don't get defined early, and don't save your best material for the after-party.