Mitt Romney strikes again
May 1st, 2014
11:57 AM ET
6 months ago

Mitt Romney strikes again

(CNN) - Mitt Romney is playing an increasingly large role in campaign politics, especially for a man who says he has no intention of running for higher office again.

Thursday the former Massachusetts governor and two-time White House candidate gave his support to a GOP Senate candidate in Oregon. The endorsement is the latest sign that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee plans to play an influential role in helping to shape the future of his party.

Romney endorsed Dr. Monica Wehby, a Portland pediatric neurosurgeon running in Oregon's May 20th Republican primary for Senate. The winner of that contest will face off this November against first-term Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who Republicans think may be vulnerable if 2014 turns into a wave year for the GOP.

"Dr. Wehby is the kind of leader Oregon needs – someone who has strong experience outside of government, who can bring trust and accountability back to Washington. Dr. Wehby is putting forward a positive and conservative vision for her campaign that will make Oregonians proud," Romney said in a statement obtained by CNN.

Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, with ballots being sent out starting Thursday and voting ending on May 20. Wehby, a first time candidate is running against state Rep. Jason Conger, considered the more conservative candidate in the primary race.

CNN special coverage: 2014 midterm elections

Romney's endorsement of Wehby, first reported nationally by Politico, follows the Tuesday endorsement of the doctor by another 2012 Republican presidential candidate: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who's a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire."

Monday NewRepublican.org announced that it was going up with television, digital and radio spots in support of Wehby. The organization was formed early last year, following the 2012 GOP election defeats, by a group of Republican veterans to refocus the party's messaging and policy goals in an attempt to broaden the GOP's appeal beyond its traditional demographic base.

The spots are the group's first paid TV commercials to back a candidate. NewRepublican.org founder Alex Castellanos, a veteran GOP strategist and CNN contributor, said his group is spending six figures to run the spots through primary day.

Oregon's Democratic Party said the new ads and endorsements are a move to prop up Wehby by establishment Republicans "due to their failure to connect to women or minority voters."

"Newsflash to Monica Wehby, and the rest of the D.C. GOP establishment: if you want to appeal to women voters and rebrand your party, support women on issues like equal pay, raising the minimum wage, and funding programs supporting women's health, don't compare high heels to work boots in television ads," Democratic Party of Oregon Chairman Frank Dixon said in a statement.

Wehby, who enjoys the support of several GOP senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, grabbed some attention last week for a campaign ad of her own. The 60-second spot highlights a woman who was advised to consider terminating her pregnancy because her unborn daughter had spinal problems. The woman then goes on to recall how Wehby operated on her daughter shortly after she was born, and that the girl is now a healthy 12-year-old.

Romney's new role

Romney's endorsement of Wehby comes on the same day that he's featured in a new television commercial for Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho.

The spot, by Simpson's campaign, uses a clip of Romney saying "Mike Simpson, fighting for a balanced budget amendment. A-plus rating from NRA. A-plus rating from Right to Life. Fighting to hold down taxes and balance the budget."

The ad buy for the commercial is described as "sizable."

Last month Romney stared in a television commercial put out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of Simpson, who faces a fierce primary challenge this year from a candidate backed by many tea party groups and by some conservative Washington-based organizations. One of those groups, Club for Growth, has gone up with ads critical of Simpson, and another, the Madison Project, this week starting running a spot that called the eight-term congressman a "Nancy Pelosi Republican."

Simpson was an early backer of Romney's last presidential campaign. Another big backer, former California state lawmaker Tony Strickland, is running for an open U.S. House seat long held by the GOP. Last week, as first reported by CNN, Strickland was endorsed by Romney.

Romney's backing of Strickland came one day after he endorsed state lawmaker Andy Tobin in the Republican primary for Arizona's 1st Congressional District. The Arizona House Speaker was a supporter of Romney's 2012 White House bid.

Key races to watch in 2014

Romney stayed far from the political spotlight following his bruising November 2012 election defeat to President Barack Obama. But starting last spring when he hosted a summit in Park City Utah of some major political and business leaders, and last summer, when he headlined a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican party, he's been getting more and more involved in shaping the future of his party and guiding the national conversation.

So far this cycle he's endorsed or donated money to nearly 20 candidates, many of them establishment favorites who backed Romney in his White House runs.

With the two living former Republican presidents, George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, both staying far from the political conversation, Romney has begun to fill the void as a party elder.


Filed under: 2014 • House • Mitt Romney • Oregon • Senate • Senate Race
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Mitt Romney strikes again"

    Yeah. Struck out and still swinging.

    May 1, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Denise

    Kiss of death for the GOP candidate....

    May 1, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    He's waiting on them to beg him. He wants to run and he knows it. After all he was assured a win in 2012....

    May 1, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Captain Alsoran....here he comes to wreck the daaaaaaay.....

    May 1, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    "Last month Romney stared in a television commercial put out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of Simpson, who faces a fierce primary challenge this year from a candidate backed by many tea party groups and by some conservative Washington-based organizations."
    ---------------------------
    "stared"? He could never top the Bachmann camera stare down, though. While Mitt might be popular with the Republican establishment, he's mostly unpopular with the conservative base.

    May 1, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. Denise

    Poor Mitt, keeps fouling off balls, hoping to get on base.....

    May 1, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Romney's new role
    --------------------–
    Campaign Wrecker?

    May 1, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    CNN, why are you bringing this guy into spotlight. Isn't he lost the election to humiliating defeat? Why?

    May 1, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. CryBabies

    Thank you Mitt Romney.

    May 1, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. Denise

    The gift that keeps on giving, "tax free" to boot!

    May 1, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. smith

    @Gurgyl-They bring up Mitty the same way they brought up Gore. Gore was defeated also.

    May 1, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "With the two living former Republican presidents, George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, both staying far from the political conversation, Romney has begun to fill the void as a party elder."
    --------------------------------------
    Party elder? I thought that was Sen. McCain's role. It's just about the only role McCain has left, seeing how he's been in the Senate so long that term limit rules prevent him from anything more than a minor member of any existing committee. McCain has already chaired them all, or was the leading minority member.

    NTW, I don't think that The Great Limbaugh is going to warm up to the idea of Mitt Romney taking over as the party leader.

    May 1, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Abbey

    Mitts go it right with Russia and Putin. The Democrats should get their tail whipped for this.

    May 1, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. MrSnuggles

    "Frank" is gonna lecture "Monica" on women, huh? Maybe when Frank looks in the mirror, he sees a women, but the rest of us don't.

    May 1, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    --gore was cheated by Bush in Florida. It was incriminating election, world knows it. Ultimately as a result, USA saw tough BLOW.

    May 1, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. Denise

    Hmmmmmm......Gore won the popular vote and Mitt lost in an electoral landside.......apples to oranges......

    May 1, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. ted

    Yet another washed up GOP loser thinking because he was in the presidential race, think Sara Palin, he has a place on the national stage. No you dont. Go away. raid some company, lay everyone off, sell the assets and feel good about yourself. loser.

    May 1, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Denise

    He probably should replace Boss Hogg! He looks alot better, is in good shape, is educated, has only been married once, does not do illicit, illegal drugs and most likely does not overindulge in donuts or fries. II'm not sure about the Viagra part!

    May 1, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. MaryM

    lol, supported by a loser. Yea, repubs , that will work!

    May 1, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Strikes again?!?! I thought this guy was still on the DL... Perhaps someone should throw a bean ball and put him out of his misery.

    Still trying (in vain) to please Queen Ann, eh Mitt?

    May 1, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    smith
    @Gurgyl-They bring up Mitty the same way they brought up Gore. Gore was defeated also.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except no. Al Gore has pretty much stayed out of politics following the USSC's 2000 decision to stop the Florida recount when it became clear that HE would be declared the victor. The 2008 & 2012 gotp also-rans should show as much class.

    May 1, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Gurgyl-They bring up Mitty the same way they brought up Gore. Gore was defeated also.
    ------------------------------
    That's false. Al Gore began doing humanitarian work. You know, that whole global warming thing. He even started up his own cable network. No, Al Gore was not active in the political arena as you want to suggest. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has been running his mouth ever since he lost, which he couldn't do with good grace. He had to blame it on "free stuff" and other excuses, instead of taking responsibility for the fact that he came across as an inferior candidate.

    May 1, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Denise

    Call it KARMA, reality, whatever you like......47% voted for Mitt.

    May 1, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ smith

    Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe after Al Gore encouraged Americans to get behind GW after the recount was ended, he left politics behind and stayed out of the fray. I can't think when he spent his time publicly endorsing other candidates prior to 2008.

    May 1, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. smith

    @Rudy-You didn`t read Gurgy`s comment. Gurygl askes why Mitt was being put in the spotlight. Gore also threw himself in the spotlight with his global warming fodder.

    May 1, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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