March 15th, 2013
02:42 PM ET
10 years ago

Acknowledging defeat, Romney points to governors as GOP's future

(CNN) – The next wave of Republican leaders can be found in the nation's statehouses, last year's GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told a receptive crowd of conservative activists Friday.

In his first major speech since last November's defeat, Romney cited governors in traditionally Democratic states as examples of effective conservative leadership who could make inroads nationwide. Romney himself served as governor of Massachusetts before making bids for president in 2008 and 2012.

"As someone who just lost the last election, I am probably not in the best position to chart the course for the next one," Romney admitted at the Conservative Political Action Conference taking place in a Maryland suburb of Washington.

"But that being said, let me offer this advice. Perhaps because I am a former governor, I would urge us all to learn lessons that come from some of our greatest success stories and that's 30 Republican governors across the country. They are winning elections, but more importantly they are solving problems, big problems, important problems."

One of those governors – South Carolina's Nikki Haley – introduced Romney Friday, gaining loud applause when she touted her state's law mandating voter identification at polls. Haley wasn't originally scheduled to speak at CPAC, and several of the other GOP executives Romney mentioned, including Virginia's Bob McDonnell and New Jersey's Chris Christie, aren't on the speaking roster this year.

Both McDonnell and Christie have received some blowback from conservatives for their willingness to work with Democrats – McDonnell on the commonwealth's recently passed transportation bill, and Christie for his public praise of President Barack Obama during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

But that bipartisan bent, which may have cost those governors a speaking slot at CPAC, is exactly what the Republican Party should be about, Romney argued.

"These governors have shown that they are able to reach across the aisle, offer innovative solutions, and then they are willing to take the heat that you have to take to do important things," he said. "We need the leadership and the ideas and the vision of these governors."

The nod to bipartisanship is a stark contrast to Romney's last appearance at CPAC in 2012, when he declared himself "severely conservative" to a crowd still weighing Republican primary hopefuls. As Romney advanced through the preliminary contests to eventually become the GOP nominee, many in the party continued to view his conservative credentials skeptically.

At this week's conservative confab, Romney's name has been largely absent from the major speeches, though some of his ideas have been repudiated by high profile speakers.

Rick Perry, explaining why conservatism wasn't dead in America, said "That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates."

And Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida lawmaker who's being regarded as a Republican savior, rebuffed Romney's assertion that the 47% of Americans dependent on government see themselves as victims, telling the crowd Thursday that the "vast majority of the American people are hard-working taxpayers who take responsibility for their families."

Romney eventually disavowed the remarks, saying they were "completely wrong."

The former presidential candidate didn't tackle any specific criticism of his campaign during his speech Friday, though said he was willing to examine the blunders that may have led to his loss.

"It is up to us to make sure that we learn from my mistakes, and from our mistakes, so that we can win the victories those people and this nation depend upon," he said.

And he hinted he would remain a part of the Republican Party's efforts going forward, saying, "I am sorry that I will not be your president, but I will be your co-worker and I will work shoulder to shoulder alongside you."

Filed under: CPAC • Mitt Romney
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Oh, oh, the bishop is telling the country to go tea tard in state level.
    This reinforces what i have been thinking and posting for months. The tea tards and rethugs can't win a general election but at the state level they can paralyze the country.
    Think walker,perry, scott and the one from Michigan for starters. They have and are gerrymandering the counties to win elections while trying to keep US from voting.
    That being said, twit, you lost the election big time. Go do whatever work you just embarked upon and leave US alone. You have had nothing to say except flip flop on everything you ever stood for, or not. It's hard to tell with your wispy washy ways.
    Is your stop it, stop it, wife still wearing that ugly fish tee?

    March 15, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Forget the clown car, they need a clown bus to charter these crazies to CPAC!"

    Good news!!!! There's nothing the Koch brothers love more than funding clown bus tours!!!

    March 15, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Not quite on topic, but to folks like Mittens, here's why I think you and your wealthy cronies should pay more in taxes (not just a higher rate, but actual higher numbers, i.e., close the loopholes that allow you to write off your wife's "therapy horse" as a business expense):

    Where would any of these wealthy folks be without our country, her people, her innovation, her infrastructure?

    If it weren't for us, there wouldn't be world-wide markets for all the products and services WE invented and refined (often utilizing/building on discoveries made through public funding; yes, I'm referring to the Internet, among other things).

    If it weren't for us, there wouldn't be a military that works to ensure their safety around the world.

    If it weren't for us, there wouldn't be the necessary physical and financial infrastructure the require, without which these wealthy folks and their corporations would never have come into being, let alone prospered.

    If it weren't for us, there would be no state-of-the-art factories, innovations and technology to move to third-world countries.

    As I've said before, requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes is not only the right thing to do, it is the least they can do for the country that has given them so much.

    March 15, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Getoverit

    @Woman In California
    Correction: able to think beyond hating the “black guy” in the White House.
    Did you ever notice that the only people that mention "the black guy in the White House" are the liberals?

    March 15, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. Kurt

    Amazing how rude some people can be in these anonymous posts. I'm sure Romney is a good guy who does the best he can to do what's right. Just like I think Obama does the same thing. And you know what? I bet over 90% of the politicians in office are actually trying to do what they think is right. I mean, if you don't even know these people, how can you judge?

    March 15, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. kuhrdan1

    Focusing on the state level is obvious. It is the best way to rewrite the legal script, stack all changes to favor one party, and silence other voices, all in the name of patriotism. The fact is the Republican Teabagger party is simply a fascist organization, true to the convictions of Machievelli's, The Prince and Ayn Rand's survival of the fittest at all cost. In that context, Rand as a Jewess was much in line with Third Reich policies premised on, 'screw you."

    March 15, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    If Mitt Romney is such a business genius, why don't Republicans hire him to fix their party?

    March 15, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "It is up to us to make sure that we learn from my mistakes...our mistakes..."

    Yes, but it's becoming quite apparent to everyone but those within the GOP/Teatroll echo chamber reality bubble that they are all severely learning impaired when it comes to their current existential crisis.

    March 15, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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