March 24th, 2014
02:31 PM ET
4 years ago

Romney makes a role for himself

Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney seems to be popping up everywhere this year.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee and two-time White House hopeful made a Sunday talk show appearance, criticizing President Barack Obama's handling of the crisis in Ukraine, this weekend, the sixth major TV interview Romney's done so far this year.

The higher profile has some people questioning what kind of public and political roles Romney will assume as the 2014 midterm elections near and with the next presidential contest just over the horizon.

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Romney said that Obama should have been more forceful with Russian President Vladimir Putin from the start.
"I'm saying what (Obama) should have done from the very beginning was have the judgment to understand that Russia was not our friend, that Russia had very different ambitions and interests, that you have to stand strong," Romney said.

A few days earlier, Romney said a "failure" by the President and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to lead when they had the chance contributed to last week's move by Russia to annex the Crimean peninsula, which was a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine with a large pro-Russian population.

"President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed," Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Romney was derided during the 2012 election for saying that Russia was a major political foe of the U.S.

In a March 2012 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room," Romney said that Russia "without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They - they fight every cause for the world's worst actors."

But as the situation in Ukraine, and especially Crimea, unraveled over the past two months, many conservative commentators criticized the President and touted Romney's prescience.

"Everyone poked fun at the guy during the elections when he talked about Russia as a geo-political threat. People, including Obama, rolled their eyes and scoffed back that we weren't in the Cold War any more.....well, Putin's doing the laughing now," said Republican strategist Ana Navarro, a CNN contributor. "Romney has earned an 'I told you so' moment."

Helping on the campaign trail

Romney's "Face the Nation" appearance came one day before he headed to Florida, where he's scheduled co-headline a Republican Governors Association fundraiser with Rick Scott, the state's GOP governor who's facing a tough re-election this year. Tuesday Romney will be in New York City to serve as the main attraction at a fundraiser for former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who's running to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia this year. Gillespie served as a top political adviser on Romney's 2012 White House bid.

An aide close to the former Massachusetts governor says Romney will "continue to help and travel for 2014 candidates."

And Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime top Romney political adviser, told CNN that "the governor is a leading figure in the party and he's in demand as a speaker, a fundraiser and a surrogate campaigner. Even though he's ruled out a future political run for himself, he cares deeply about the direction the country is going in and believes that Republican leadership will restore America's standing in the world and get us back on the right track."

In the spotlight

After staying out of the spotlight for months following his 2012 election loss to Obama, Romney held a conference in Park City, Utah last June that featured several prospective 2016 presidential candidates and other national leaders, as well as some of the GOP's major donors.

Two months later Romney re-entered the campaign world, serving as the headliner at his first political fundraiser since he lost the 2012 election. The event, a benefit for the state Republican Party, was held near his vacation home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

And Romney's been making headlines this year. Romney said In an appearance in early January on "Fox News Sunday" that President obscured the truth when he pledged citizens could keep their insurance plans under his new health care law.

"He told people, 'You can keep the insurance you have, if you like it,' " Romney told Fox News' Chris Wallace. "That was not honest. That was deceptive."

And last month he joined some other top Republicans in urging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto legislation that critics said would codify discrimination against gays and lesbians in that state.

"@GovBrewer veto of#SB1062 is right," Romney tweeted.

Romney also teamed up with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie after Christie came under media scrutiny over allegations that top members of his administration closed access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge last September to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not endorsing Christie's re-election. Romney, a former RGA chairman, joined Christie, the current chairman of the RGA, at a fundraiser in Boston.

Romney's also finding the media spotlight in lighter ways: He slow-jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon on NBC's "Late Night." And a video of him attempting the Gangnam-style dance at a concert at a regional conference for young adults in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints went viral.

Romney's role

Romney is clear that he won't be making a third bid for the White House. Asked last month by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on the "Situation Room" if he would run again, Romney said, "The answer is no, I'm not running for president in 2016. It's time for someone else to take that responsibility and I'll be supporting our nominee."

But Romney wants a say in his party and the country's future. In an interview at last June's conference with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, Romney said, "we're thinking about ways that we can still make a contribution to a country we love very deeply."

And Romney told Borger that "I'm optimistic a Republican is going to win in 2016. But I'm not going to be that guy. It will be somebody else that takes that, uh, that mantle. And more power to them. I hope I can help them in some way."'

Republican strategist and CNN contributor Kevin Madden says Romney can help move the GOP forward.

"He has a platform as a former party nominee and he's willing to use it to help frame the national policy conversation and help Republican candidates where he can.

While he does seize these opportunities provided to him on the opinion pages and on TV, it's all with an eye towards helping to develop and promote ideas and new voices within the party," said Madden, who served as senior adviser on Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

Some of those who worked for Romney's rivals in the last presidential campaign agree.

"Governor Romney knows more than any other Republican what it means to take on President Obama and his failed policies. He has valuable insight and joins a long list of Republicans who are working together to ensure a GOP sweep in the midterms, setting the stage for a GOP victory in 2016," said Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist and radio talk show host who worked as a senior adviser in on Rep. Michele Bachmann's 2012 presidential campaign, and who then helped advise former Sen. Rick Santorum as he battled Romney deep into the 2012 GOP primary calendar after Bachmann's campaign ended.

But not everyone is on board with declaring Romney a GOP elder statesman.

"I think 'elder statesman' is premature about Romney, he has only served one term as governor of Massachusetts," Republican communications strategist Keith Appell told CNN. "Given how poorly Obama is faring on both the domestic front with ObamaCare and on the international front with Russia, Romney is a modest plus for GOP candidates running this year."

But Appell, a senior vice president at CRC Public Relations, a Washington PR firm that has had many conservative clients, did say that Romney "could easily be seen as a senior figure in a future Republican administration and a future GOP president would be wise to seek his counsel and consider him for such a post."

CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn contributed to this report

Filed under: 2014 • 2016 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Laverne

    So I guess Romney is on the "see you should have picked me" tour! He is such a loser in every sense of the word. He couldn't stand up against his losing party and that is why he lost so for him to bashing Obama at this point is so irrelevant. When I hear him speak and look at his smug face, I am still so glad I did not pick this elitist to be my president. He is a 2 time loser and that is saying something!!!

    March 24, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Mittens wants a third chance so badly.

    March 24, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Al-NY,NY

    why would any candidate want this 2-time loser to campaign for them? I guess the rich, white, and uncaring masses like him

    March 24, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |

    I see the GOP is still embarrassed about GWB. Romney needs to take his sour grapes and learn how to make Merlot.

    March 24, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Looking awfully tan for the just a few days into spring ... must have been visiting his money in the Caymans ...

    March 24, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Hey, Mitt, is corporations are people, my friend, then what's the height, weight and BMI of Bain Capital?

    March 24, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. lionel

    Romney's role is that he is a sore loser. He also said that Corporations are people and GM should go bankrupt throwing millions out of work. He needs to go enjoy his millions that he has stolen from the American people and hidden in Swiss bank accounts.

    March 24, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. emskadittle

    so his title will be the top loser?

    March 24, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. socal71

    The bottom line, Romney called out Obama on this and Obama did his best to ridicule him for it. Obama is a joke and is being played by Russia.

    March 24, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. The View From Here

    Must be nice to call shots from the stands. Thank god Mitt wasn't incharge!!

    March 24, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    Listen, Mitt, the way your Bush, Reagan turned this nation–we can NOT afford another conflict with any nation. Aren't you lost the election to "HUMILIATING DEFEAT" to 338/105 electoral votes. That means people are not listening in USA anymore. Just keep quiet. You lost, boy. This nation is on right track, going in right direction. I tell you–let EU deal this Russia business. Till 1991 Ukraine belonged to USSA. No more argument. We need to fix potholes on I-95, LaGuardia Airport, JFK, RDU ETC. LOT OF WORK NEEDS DONE HERE AT HOME. GOOD LUCK.

    March 24, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. Tony

    Court jester. As a person who led a failed presidential campaign, Romney has an overly high opinion of himself. Remember, Romney struggled to beat his Republican opponents in the primary. Romney could not beat Obama, but he thinks that he can handle Putin.

    March 24, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. TONE

    What a joke,and loser this guy is.

    March 24, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |

    I am appalled our nation voted someone like 0bama in with so little experience as commander and chief . We needed Mitt he was prepared to fix our economy with his skills and know how . In 3 more years some of you will ag gree wid me .

    March 24, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. TONE

    It say a lot about the GOP brains picking this guy to be their candidate in 2012.

    March 24, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. O'drama ya Mama

    I remember when Bush was President. Romney would have been considered a terrorist. Remember "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists"

    March 24, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Romney must be secretly hoping that there will a spontaneous populist movement to draft him to run for his dreams.

    March 24, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. Tampa Tim

    I am appalled that right wingnuts think Mittens, who could not stand up to Rush Limbaugh, would stand up to republican hero, Vlad Putin.

    March 24, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. Ol' Yeller

    @socal71 (I assume the so cal is for southern california and the 71 is your IQ)
    "The bottom line, Romney called out Obama on this and Obama did his best to ridicule him for it. Obama is a joke and is being played by Russia."

    The bottom line... romney ran against obama and WE all went to bed smiling by 9:00 that election night except the faux losers who stayed up crying about their polls which were completely wrong. romney and the rethugs didn't get to buy the election like they thought. You lost. You are a sore loser. If you like Russia so much then move there.

    March 24, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. Tampa Tim

    As republican beauty queen, Ann Coulter, put it, if we nominate Romney, we will lose.

    March 24, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. jk fort myers fl. the gop stooges croch brothers party can only get a real job if thet buy the company

    lets see, I lost a senate race,i couldn't get realected governor of mass,i lost two presidential camoaigns, but I know the voters want me, maybe after hell freezes over. this clown, while gov of mass was not even in the state 90% of the time busy running for president. write a book, we don't want you or the gop party you stand for.

    March 24, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  22. Peace

    It looks like it has become GOP fashion/style. They keep losing but never want to go away. Look at Sarah Palin, John McCain and now Romney. All bunch of losers. People rejected them but still they think they are relevant.

    March 24, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. what1ever

    So what's Romney saying exactly, that we should have been more forceful with Putin? How exactly? What does he think that entails? Why can't he just say "I have no idea how to handle this problem," and go away forever?

    March 24, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    Pretty sure "also-ran blabbermouth" is not a new, unique and innovative "role."

    March 24, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  25. TONE

    I am appalled our nation voted someone like 0bama in with so little experience as commander and chief . We needed Mitt he was prepared to fix our economy with his skills and know how . In 3 more years some of you will ag gree wid me .

    Let me see stock market is roaring, one war ended, the other is about to end month by month job growth, ACA, least dependent on foreign oil, kill bin ladin, and so much more. In comparison to the previous president there is none stock market crash two wars because of lies could not kill bin laden millions of jobs down the drain all went to china , and india like i said it says a lot about the GOP's brains when it comes to choosing a president, good job.

    March 24, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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