March 24th, 2014
02:31 PM ET
7 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.

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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. gustifer53

    I am wondering if Liar Romney will ever realize in this Century that he lost in 2012?? Go back to doing what you do best, Outsourcing our jobs and hiding your $$$$$ offshore, You Loser.

    March 24, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Smitty – You do know Mittens got "liar of the year" in 2012, for telling Ohioans that Jeep was moving to China?

    March 24, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. rs


    Wow, alot of Mitt haters today. Translation-We hate you because you have more money than we do.
    AND we pay a higher rate of taxes than he does too.

    March 24, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. Ol' Yeller

    Stand strong." Does anyone know what exactly that's supposed to mean?

    It's the same as bush's mantra in the one debate where he just repeated the phrase 'work hard', like 732 times. It doesn't mean anything... like 'Jobs, Jobs, Jobs', or 'Drill baby Drill'. It is what gets the reds frothing at their mouths, eyes glazed over, until they start threatening to kill the President,
    Like the hypnotist who says the code word and all the chosen people begin barking like a dog, flapping their non existent wings, and believing that if you will just give all the rich your money then they will give you a job which will make you rich (thought they don't even like to pay minimum wage).

    Only rubes fall for this...

    March 24, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. smith


    March 24, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Gurgyl

    @smith, listen, no one hates because he has more money, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc have more money too. People hate his policies, his brainless racial notions, his concepts not him. Well, this president is elected Twice, I mean Twice–USA is not that stupid to elect him. Nation is on right track–look at stock market proving strong capitalistic nation on earth. God bless!!!!!

    March 24, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. deee510

    Romney ran for president two times and lost I would call that a failure.he can't run a campaign even after experiencing the first lost.who is he to give advice.but of course he wouldn't miss the opportunity to take cheap shots at president Obama.Romney=sore loser.

    March 24, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. rs

    Michigan patriot

    Romney was right. Unfortunately people made the wrong choice to elect Obama. Now tell me, who is the laughing stock in the world? Not Romney, but Obama. Nobody respect us anymore thanks to him.
    And just what was he right about?
    That Russia might seek its former states? Why do you Righties think that bit of fact is some how brilliant? That has been predicted since the breakup of the old Soviet Union.
    As far as what the U.S. should do (or have done) about Russia, well, there Mr. Romney (and you) get a wee bit unspecific. "Stand strong" doesn't mean anything- especially from a spineless rich boy who "missionized" in France instead of fighting in Vietnam- also please note none of Mr. Romney's "boys" have defended our nation either.
    You lastly forget Mr. Romney's big adventure world tour before the election- he managed to make three allies mad at us, remember?
    You are a sucker for believing in this guy.

    March 24, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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 ...
    I noticed the tan myself Think Again....

    March 24, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Silence wrote:

    "Stand Strong" is the perfect goal/criticism. It doesn't mean anything. I have never heard him or anyone explain what we would do to accomplish this. And no matter what Obama does, they can say "well he is not really standing strong".

    This is a very similar description to the core of the conservative conspiracy theories out there. Not verifiable, not testable and you can always says "that is not really the truth – the truth is just over the next hill".
    I hear you, and I can hear the reaction to what you're saying. "You don't get it." More altruistic sounding nonsense.

    March 24, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |

    IT DIDNT help when 0bama called putin a mad school boy or something at dat meeting ! That wouldnt nice a tall man .

    March 24, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. rs


    An achiever, successful, family orienated God believing man would of been only a whole lot better than Obumbles. Hows the gitmo closing ??? ooops, Hows the poverty and food stamp levels?? ooops Hows getting your backside handed to you by Putin everyday going ??? Yeah, enjoy what you voted for which is the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR!!
    An "achiever" who creatively destroyed" corporations to sell off their value and ship their jobs off-shore so his rich-guy buds didn't lose their profits.
    Please explain how Mr. Obama isn't "pro-family". His seems to work fine.
    As far as closing Gitmo- I think if you check, it was the Republicans that blocked trying terrorists in civilian courts.
    As far as food stamps- well its the GOP that "spares the fetus and starves the child" so I wouldn't know.
    Be sure to enumerate how Russia taking Crimea affects the U.S. in the slightest way.
    Finally- how about "President Obama just today sold Jeep to the Chinese"- Mitt Romney

    March 24, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Wow, alot of Mitt haters today. Translation-We hate you because you have more money than we do.
    Naww smith.
    We know how Mittens made some if not most of his money, and off of whose backs, but we don't hate the man, at least I don't.
    I do like to poke fun at him though.
    Just think two short years ago he was the GOP's richest pariah, and look at him now trying to re-insert himself into a conversation that his own Party members won't make him privy to.
    He's a joke. A rich joke. But a joke nonetheless.

    March 24, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Pathetic. He'll never have a clue as to what happened during the election. He's in his own world, and that world has never been told no. GO AWAY.

    March 24, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Lisa P.

    Another private fireworks show from the guy who was sure he was going to win the Presidency in a walk. If Mitt Romney really cared about America he would asking President Obama what he could do to help. Instead he seems to be collecting a trial balloon's worth of hot air from Republican "strategists", campaign organizers, fundraisers and other sycophants; for what reason (apart from inflating his already oversized sense of self-importance) I haven't a clue, but I'm sure that helping 100% of Americans doesn't figure into Mitt Romney's plans in the least. Unless you believe, as it seems Mitt Romney does, that what's good for Mitt Romney *is* good for America... the America that excludes the 47%, of course...

    March 24, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Mr. Moderate

    Can you imagine the screeches from the right is a losing Democratic candidate was so visible? Come to think if it every time Al Gore, the American people's choice in 2000, showed his face they did get worked up.

    March 24, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Name Uche Agonsi

    Putin's insurgency was not assualt on Obama regime only but aggression against NATO and the UN Charter.

    March 24, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    The only platform Mittens has is the checkbook he stands on.
    The only help that Republican candidates want and will get from Mittens is...from the checkbook he stands on.
    Let's tell the truth here for a change, and shame the devil.

    March 24, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. smith

    @DM4O, rs, and Gurgles-lol, I couldn`t resist throwing the jealous money angle out there.

    March 24, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Digging from the bottom of the barrel thus allowing himself to be seen as the worst loser since John McCain? Go for it, Mitt. Keep digging.

    March 24, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Getoverit


    AND we pay a higher rate of taxes than he does too.
    I have an average family with an average income, and my effective tax rate is about 8%. Maybe you should stop whining about Romney and go find someone else to do your taxes. Sounds to me like you're getting jacked.

    March 24, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    Hey twit, we didn't care or want you in 2012 and we sure as heck don't want nor care now in 2014.
    What's that game of stump the mole or something like that? Anyone have a rubber mallet? Next time he pops up from his car elevator mansion it should keep him inside and out of the way.

    March 24, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. GOP = Greed Over People

    It is so sad that the "role" is class clown.

    March 24, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. The Truth the Light and the Way

    Romney is of no relevance. As in 2012 and for 2014 no one cares what he thinks or says. Like Palin, he is pointless.

    March 24, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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