June 6th, 2013
04:32 PM ET
10 years 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.

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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. don in albuquerque

    If you think President Obama is a liar, this guy was and is, the father of lies. He is just not smart enough to know how to cover them. Keep trying MittWitt, thilrd times a charm (not).

    June 6, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  2. s

    Romney completely outspent Obama for most of the campaign and yet Romney blames his lack of ground workers on 'not being able to afford them'??? Frist of all ground workers are volunteers for the most part. And secondly I think the problem was he simply couldn't get people to knock on doors for him. Romney sees only through the eyes of dollar bills.

    And this comment just appalls me: "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.

    Heaven forbid the president show sympathy for folks.

    June 6, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. thinkergal

    Ann should have "known" long before 8:00 election night. All she had to do was follow Nate Silver's analyses of polls. Better yet, take a good, close look at both candidates and where they stood on the issues that matter!

    June 6, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. thinkergal

    Oh, and I was one of those "ground workers" for Obama–not paid, just working for a candidate in which I believed.

    June 6, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  5. Blue

    Who in the hell cares what he and Ann think. He is washed up, and most of all Ann made the comment that President Obama should have open policies. Okay Anne, why did you and Mitt hide your income tax reports? Just shut up and go away. Your fifteen minutes are up.

    June 6, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  6. JB

    This is funny. Comments about how nobody cares what he has to say, but those same people obviously cared enough to read the article and comment on quotes from it. Hellooooooo...

    Then the disparging comment about neither he nor his sons serving in the military...seriously? Where was our Commander in Chief during the Benghazi attack?...no one is saying. Sleeping? Getting ready for the big fundraiser in Vegas? I would love to hear about Obama's distinguished military accomplishments if you're going to bag on Romney about his lack of the same. So far as I can tell, when Obama needed to step up and command, he shrunk from the fight. If not, we'd be hearing all about how great he was from the media and admin. Someone out of touch...try Obama. He couldn't be bothered to actually command or care when donors are on the agenda for the next day.

    June 6, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  7. Peter Knight

    Ms. romney knew by 8 pm. I knew 2 weeks before.

    June 6, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. OKfine


    Romney outspent Obama and then blamed the loss on being outspent.

    You have to WANT to fall for their lies to support today's rightwing.


    On top of that, SuperPacs and other outside conservative groups spent something on the order of $700 million trying to get Romney elected, which is nearly triple what was spent by Democratic groups.

    June 6, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. Montel

    When Romeny lost......that was a good day! Think of all the millionaires and billionaires who had to admit that money can't buy everything.

    June 6, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  10. Chad

    Oh no so sorry Mitt that the hurricane, the 100 people that died, and thousands more that lost their homes couldn't wait for the election to be over so Obama wouldn't look presidential. All politicians are horrible and this is exactly why, they don't give a crap about the people, all they care about is how things effect their chances of election. You would think that he would wish it had never happened at all.

    June 6, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  11. TJ

    The media did everything they could to ensure that Obama had a 2nd term.

    June 6, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  12. Daniel

    Mitt Romney should be extradited to another country. I would prefer he be hanged in public.

    June 6, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  13. falcon

    Who cares–take a hike

    June 6, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  14. Fuzzy Thinker

    Wow. The hate just spits out, today. Shouting down others is Not the Liberal Way. Fascists would welcome these posters. The Democratic Party should revoke their memberships.

    June 6, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  15. Getoverit


    Who cares what romney has to say. He’s a has been like sara and michele.
    If that's true, then why does CNN continue to interview him?

    1. To distract from the disaster of the Obama administration.

    2. So the liberal hacks that post here have something else to spew about.

    June 6, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  16. grannysfarm

    No one cares ann, take mittens and go quietly somewhere...anywhere.

    June 6, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  17. treblemaker

    Of course Romney doesn't relate to the average person. What is the big deal if he does or doesn't? Republicans stand for financial exploitation. Democrats stand for thought regulation. It didn't matter who won. The voters deserve what they get. The scrutiny both candidates went through to seek the presidency would melt most of you like wax.

    The USA as a country is as bloated as many of its citizens, unable to come to any rational decision, unable to have independent thought without technological help, unable to compromise their opinions for the good of the country. It's now all about personal happiness and self-fulfillment. Don't blame the government. You put them there. Look in the mirror and see the real problem. Those in power want for the people to remain dumb, so they can stay in power with hardly a protest from us. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and the county as a collective is wasting theirs in record amounts.

    June 6, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  18. smith

    I know all the libs are pumping their fists but in 2016 there will be no more Obama...and then progress can actually occur

    June 6, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. Flgeeman

    Why are we even talking to this idiot> Ignore him and his 1% friends and we will be fine.

    June 6, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  20. Ghostwriter

    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.

    Romney is right. They wanted the turnout for minorities to be much lower. If you can't beat 'em, keep 'em from voting. That's the GOP way!

    June 6, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  21. Jeri Briggs. Park city Utah

    Dear mr. Romney,
    Please please just give it up. The election was won by president obamab. Period. End of discussion.
    Just as a footnote to you, my dear, hard working parents, world war 11 veterans were part of your infamous 47% comment. My heart hurt for them .
    Please go back to doing good with your church and running Bain Capitol that was instrumental in taking my husband's pension after 30 years with United Airlines...

    June 6, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  22. wenscity

    Why won't Mitt just go away?

    June 6, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. tafugate

    8 o'clock hell, i knew romney didn't have a shot as soon as i saw the 47 percent video. you can pull the wool over voters' eyes for just so long, but once you show your true spots...

    i do like that he's including gov christie in the 2016 conversation. i like hillary a lot, but if chris christie is the republican nominee, i can be persuaded. ryan and paul are uber losers.

    June 6, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  24. DK

    Yeah right...like Ann Romney does the laundry – whos buying that crap?

    June 6, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  25. Frank

    I will always remember Romney as the biggest liar ever to run for president since I can remember. Even though he joins many other liars, to me, he has #1 spot. I could also be too young and have not seen many presidential elections as I'm 26 years old. All I can say is that Romney is completely out of touch with Americans and he lost because he is a liar and shot himself in his foot many times. He destroyed himself.

    June 6, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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