June 6th, 2013
04:32 PM ET
1 year ago

Romney talks Christie, IRS, 2016

(CNN) - Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he has no ill will towards Gov. Chris Christie and weighed in on other flashbacks from the 2012 campaign in a wide-ranging interview with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

The former Massachusetts governor also offered sharp criticism of the Obama administration over the recent Internal Revenue Service controversy and gave his thoughts on some potential 2016 presidential contenders.

Romney sat down with Borger this week in Park City, Utah, where he's holding a multi-day conference that features several prospective presidential candidates, as well as other national leaders with some of the party's major donors also in attendance.

Romney hopes this meeting, called "Experts and Enthusiasts," will allow the approximately 200 attendees to discuss the nation's problems and possible solutions in a different forum.

But it was just seven months ago on November 6 when Romney had a much more public life and was waiting to hear whether he'd become the next president of the United States.

Outsized 10:1

The former candidate and his wife, Ann, said they went into the day certain that they would be celebrating victory later that night. As they saw the numbers trickle in, however, doubts began to set in.

"I think at 6:00, I was really worried," Ann Romney said. "By 8:00, I think we knew it was - it wasn't going well."

"We were together," Mitt Romney added. "And I said, boy, the exit polls are not good. And Ann said don't worry, we're going to win. And I said, well, we'll - we'll watch. And the numbers came in and you don't know immediately, because the numbers were close. And you don't know until the last counties are counted."

So sure he would win, Romney said he did not plan a losing speech. "I'd written a very good winning speech."

Read more: Romney regrets 47% comments

Talking about what went wrong, Romney said they didn't get the turnout from minority voters that they needed and he acknowledged his campaign was outmatched by his opponent's massive organization.

"I think he had as many as 10 times the number of ground workers, paid staff, that we had, because he could afford them and we couldn't," he said.

Asked what they did the next morning, Ann Romney said they spent time with their family but mostly returned to routine activities for the first time in a year and a half.

"Life goes on. It's just amazing. I mean you still - there's still laundry, you still have to get the groceries," she said.

While their Secret Service detail was supposed to stay with them for at least a full week after the election, the Romneys declined, saying they didn't want taxpayers picking up the tab any longer.

Within days, their circle of campaign staff, reporters and security agents had vanished.

"It was the two of us," Mitt Romney said, adding that their son Tagg and his family live only a mile away in Belmont, Massachusetts.

All is well between Romney and Christie

Less than a week before Election Day, a devastating storm–Superstorm Sandy–slammed into the northeast coast and caused massive destruction and took the lives of more than 100 people.

Both candidates took a break from the campaign, and Obama flew to New Jersey to survey the damage. Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a top surrogate for Romney, publicly embraced the president and stuck by his side as they toured the destroyed parts of the coast.

Some Republicans unleashed sharp criticism against Christie, hounding the Republican for appearing so close the president and bolstering Obama's image just days before voters were to head for the ballots.

Christie has since stood by his decision to be seen with Obama and invited the president against last month.

Asked if he blames Christie at all for the final results, Romney repeatedly said "no."

"I wish the hurricane hadn't have happened when it did because it gave the president a chance to be presidential and to be out showing sympathy for folks," Romney said, looking at the storm through a political lens. "That's one of the advantages of incumbency. But, you know, you don't look back and worry about each little thing and how could that have been different."

Pressed later about Christie's 2016 potential, Romney said the Republican has proved he's been a "very effective" governor in dealing with the hurricane and working with a Democratic legislature in a Democratic state.

"You have to look at Chris and say this is a guy who's been a very effective governor and has a great potential for leadership," Romney said.

Romney on 'three different Republicans' - and Clinton

But what about other potential White House candidates?

On Rep. Paul Ryan, his former running mate and House Budget Committee chair: "Oh, I love Paul. I mean I will always have a very special feeling for Paul, because I think he was one of the great vice presidential nominees in history. I think he would have been a terrific vice president. I don't have any idea whether he has presidential aspirations."

On Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky: "Rand is also a very strong emerging voice in the Republican Party. Represents a different, if you will, vocal group within the party that's having a real impact.

"And with those three that happen to all be coming (Christie, Ryan and Paul), you're going to see three very different Republicans - one a governor, one a member of Congress who's a conservative, a long-term conservative; another who represents a more libertarian wing of our party. And each presenting their views about priorities. It's going to give us a chance to hear from all three and decide from - for ourselves what we think the right path will be."

On former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "Secretary Clinton's challenge will not just be Benghazi, but more the record of American foreign policy over the last four years, while she was secretary of state.

"We'll look at everything from North Korea to Iran to Pakistan, to Afghanistan, to Syria, to Egypt and you look across the world, and our prospects - the prospects for stability, for liberal democracy, for freedom, have retreated over the period of her administration in the Department of State. And I think that's something that - that it will be a challenge for her."

Would a 2012 IRS scandal have changed the election?

Asked about one of the biggest stories of the day - the IRS' admitted targeting of tea party and conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status - Romney said the incident was a "breach of trust" and argued the administration was purposely keeping the controversy under wraps during the campaign.

"I think they certainly hid the activities of targeting conservative groups. Otherwise, there would have been a hue and outcry about it," he said.

Romney did not go as far as saying the line of fault runs all the way up to the president's desk-as some other Republicans are attempting to prove-but said "time will tell" on who was involved.

Read more: Mitt Romney to CNN: Rice appointment ‘disappointing’

Asked if he thinks it would have changed the outcome of the election had the public known about it, Romney said the results were so close–51% to 47%–that "a number of things could have changed the outcome."

"Again, you don't look back and say, oh, couldn't we have just changed this?" he said "The president won. I congratulate his campaign team on having won. That's the nature of politics is winning. They won. Nice work. And let's get on with it."

Romney says 'self-deportation' was 'overtaken'

Another issue in the Washington spotlight is immigration. Romney was famously known for saying in the GOP primary that he supported a policy of self-deportation, in which undocumented immigrants would voluntarily return to their countries and apply for legal re-entry.

Since the election loss, many Republicans have noted his comments as having a damaging effect on the party's image and some in the party have taken an aggressive approach to tackle immigration reform.

In the interview, Romney attempted to clarify what he meant by the term.

"It's interesting how the opposition campaign made a big deal of that. Self-deportation is as opposed to government deportation. The government deports people. Now, my view was that people should make their own choice. And so, people say, oh, he's for self-deportation, it sounds very, very, unkind."

Romney said his plan was "overtaken by events." While he favors some of the current proposals and disagrees with others, the Republican acknowledged "it's not my choice at this stage."

"But let's deal with the 11 million, and let's reform the legal system so the millions who are in line can understand how to get here legally and we can bring in those people that our economy needs and, frankly, that families we'd like to have reunited to come in legally," he said.

– CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • 2016 • Chris Christie • IRS • Mitt Romney
soundoff (522 Responses)
  1. ANNIER

    The part of this I find HILARIOUS, is the Stepford's wife comment that "there's still the laundry to do, and the groceries...." Bet the last time she did laundry or was in a grocery store was about the time I lost my baby teeth!! She's as delusional about that as her delusions that mittwitt would be POTUS.

    However, we all need a good laugh at times, and this certainly provided me with one today!

    June 6, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. BobWhiite

    Shut up and go away. Nobody cares about what you think.

    June 6, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. Florida Joe

    This clown reminds me so much of Palin it's disgusting.........Never your fault huh Mitt?
    I bet I know how he spent the first day after the election....having his accountant refile his tax return to take advantage of the deductions he did not take so his tax % would be higher than it normally is.......
    Go on Mitt crawl back into your car elevator and BE GONE

    June 6, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. independent

    Romney who?

    June 6, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. Frank Garcia

    please show up in 2016! we need a real president after Barry

    June 6, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. George

    Does anyone believe for one second that Ann Romney does laundry? LOL !!!!!!

    June 6, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  7. Bertha59

    Romney refused to believe the polls prior to the election. Otherwise he would have know before the election he was going to lose.

    June 6, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  8. Say what?

    Ann Romney does her own laundry?

    Ah, come on!

    June 6, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. Joseph

    backward, irrelevant, boring. like the rest of the GOP

    June 6, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. rob

    What a maroon... He was obviously one of the very few who actually thought he was going to win... We can go as far as calling him delusional.

    June 6, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. SwingState

    Why is this guy still talking about things he wished he had any say in? Sarah Palin the male version for you.

    June 6, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. A Bingos

    "I think he had as many as 10 times the number of ground workers, paid staff, that we had, because he could afford them and we couldn't," Romney said.

    Hehehehe! I thought Republicans were supposed to take personal responsibility? Romney lost, and now he is saying the reason why he lost was because Obama "could afford" ground workers, whereas Romney and the GOP campaign could "not afford" as many workers? So you were out-matched in the money department? If that was the case, why didn't you write a concession speech? Why then did you start the day with 100% confidence that you would win?

    Dude, you lost! You believed your own hype, and you totally underrated your opponent. Take some personal responsibility for your loss and stop blaiming it on one million factors!

    June 6, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Bob

    Only a numbskull could have lost that election to Obama.

    June 6, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. OwMySkull

    Get ready, Mitt, for a democratic win in 2016. Your dinosaur ideas are quickly dying.

    June 6, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. yeahright

    "I wish the hurricane hadn't have happened when it did because it gave the president a chance to be presidential and to be out showing sympathy for folks,"

    Wow. Just when you think this guy cannot get any more detached from the average person, he opens his mouth and proves you wrong.

    June 6, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. rosethornne

    Ugh.
    I saw that smirking face and just threw up in my mouth.
    Can we PLEASE never hear from any of the Pretentious clan ever ever ever again, pleeeeeease?

    June 6, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. A-nono-mouse

    Why is anything a wanna-be poser like Mitt the Twit says relevant?

    June 6, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  18. katherine

    lol @ the romneys. poor things thinking money bought obama votes in 2012. being #trendy bought the votes.

    June 6, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  19. Dennis

    The "dreamer" is at it again.

    June 6, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  20. tim

    Romney says Obama had 10 times the number of paid "ground workers" as Romney did, but he spent $7million more than Obama. If Obama can employ 10 times the number of workers and spend less money than Romney, I'm even more glad that Romney didn't win.

    June 6, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  21. google man

    The county would be so much better off it Romney had one.

    June 6, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. sammy750

    How sick, they thought they would win with the election they held. They flip flopped the whole campaign. OMG Republicans have such a high regard of themselves and they are just FRAUDS. They continue to be FRAUDS on this nation and the people. We just have to look at the news and the comments these stupids Republicans say. And they think they will get elected. Wake up Republicans, you are complete failures. You will suffer the biggest defeat in the next 2 elections. The voters are so sick of Republicans saying no, doing nothing and wasting millions on committee meetings. They are the biggest fraud on the American people in this century.

    June 6, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  23. skytag

    "Talking about what went wrong, Romney said they didn't get the turnout from minority voters that they needed and he acknowledged his campaign was outmatched by his opponent's massive organization."

    Republicans never accept responsibility for their failures. Romney doesn't mention that he insulted 47% of the electorate with a ludicrous claim they don't want to take responsibility for their lives, and his refusal to release more tax returns convinced a lot of people he was hiding something. Romney consistently came across as a member of the aristocracy. His own demeanor and mistakes cost him the election.

    June 6, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  24. Siojan

    "I mean you still – there's still laundry, you still have to get the groceries," (Ann Romney) said". Right Ann, and when exactly did you do that last? Please ....

    June 6, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  25. TKO

    Kitcole: the election was NOT close–Romney received 47% and Obama 52%. The electoral defeat was even more crushing for Mitt. When W won in 2004 by a MUCH closer margin (less than 2% if I'm not mistaken) he called it a "mandate," saying he had amassed lots of political capital and that he "intend[ed] to spend it." This give you a sense of how warped the GOP perceptions have become. Wake up.

    June 6, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21