First on CNN: Romney takes sides in GOP primary battle
April 23rd, 2014
08:46 AM ET
9 years ago

First on CNN: Romney takes sides in GOP primary battle

(CNN) - Mitt Romney is weighing in on competitive Republican primary for a GOP held House seat in California - the latest sign that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee plans to play an influential role in helping to shape the future of his party.

CNN has learned that Wednesday Romney will endorse Tony Strickland for Congress in California's 25th district, to succeed longtime GOP Rep. Buck McKeon. The House Armed Services committee chairman announced in January that he wouldn't run for re-election this November.

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Key races to watch in 2014

Strickland is a former California state assemblyman and state senator who represented parts of the traditionally Republican leaning congressional district, which is located in northern Los Angeles County and includes Simi Valley (home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library) and the city of Santa Clarita. Strickland, who's been endorsed by McKeon, is one of a half a dozen GOP candidates running in the June primary.

"An experienced legislator, a devoted husband and father, and a longtime community leader, Tony Strickland is exactly who we need in Congress. Tony led the fight against the Democrats' excessive budgets in Sacramento and worked to bring California's crippling deficit under control. He will do the same in Congress," wrote Romney in a statement acquired by CNN.

"Tony will fight to limit government spending and support economic policies designed to create jobs. He knows we cannot pass this unsustainable debt on to future generations, and Tony will face this problem head on so we can leave a stable, debt-free country for our children and grandchildren," Romney added.

The endorsement doesn't come as a surprise, as Strickland served as California co-chairman of Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Romney has already made a donation to Strickland's campaign.

Romney's new political role

Romney's backing of Strickland comes one day after he endorsed state lawmaker Andy Tobin in the Republican primary for Arizona's first Congressional District. The Arizona House Speaker was a supporter of Romney's 2012 White House bid. And it comes one week after Romney starred in a television commercial put out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, who faces a fierce primary challenge this year from a tea party backed candidate. Simpson was an early backer of Romney's last presidential campaign.

Romney looked and sounded very much like a candidate for office in his ad for Simpson. But the former Massachusetts governor has ruled out another campaign for president. Instead, he appears to be campaigning for another role: a party elder.

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 the establishment favorites who backed Romney in his White House runs.

"By now endorsing GOP candidates who have stood proudly with him over the last several years, the Governor is sending a clear message that he remains an essential Republican leader in 2014," veteran New Hampshire Republican strategist Jim Merrill told CNN.

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.

"Mitt Romney is the most prominent and engaged elder statesman the GOP has on the national stage right now," added Merrill, who was a top adviser to Romney in the Granite State in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

Merrill said that Romney's "hard work on behalf of the Republican Party, whether through dissecting the President on Obamacare and foreign policy or aggressively fundraising for party committees across the country," is greatly appreciated.

The rebirth of Romney

But some grassroots conservatives don't share that view.

"Is the GOP stuck on stupid? Why does the Republican Party listen to losers?" asked Judson Phillips.

The Republican Party has listened to the Romney wing of the party and what has the result been? The GOP has lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections. If the GOP listens to Romney, it will be six out of seven," added Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, a national tea party group. "Romney needs to go quietly into retirement. Let him spend time with his wife, his kids and grandkids but stay the hell out of the Republican Party."

Romney's private guest list



Filed under: 2014 • GOP • Mitt Romney • Republican Party
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Thatguy371

    We finally found a gig for him... Mitt Romney: Donut Private Eye. Saturday mornings with the rest of the cartoons.

    April 23, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. rrjkr

    Their is a reason Judson Phillips does't want Romney around. Romney is a moderate, not a far right conservative. If Romney had followed his own principles rather than pandering to the ultra right wing he would have attracted far more independents in the last election. If the GOP wants to survive they need to swing back closer to the center, and forget about the Tea Party.

    April 23, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. yoshimoto

    man i wish this guy got elected, this country would be heading on the right path instead of the downhill path we are on – recent studies showed the American middle class has now slipped below other countries.....the party that caters to this group will WIN

    April 23, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. kkorenthal

    I agree that Romney would be better for America than Obama has, but he is wrong about his choice for Congress in the California 25th District. Steve Knight has served more than 50% of the district for over a decade. By comparison, Tony Strickland ran and lost in the 26th in 2012, raised money running there as recently as this year and then parachuted into the 25th District to be the air apparent of outgoing Boss Hog Congressman Buck McKeon.

    April 23, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. Lee

    What Mister Romney is clearly unaware of – having waded into a race he clearly knows nothing about – is that Mr. Strickland is running for Congress for the second consecutive election, in a different district than the last time. He lost to a Democrat in the CA 26th in 2012 and is now running several cities and a county over, in the CA 25th. And in 2012 he spent a great deal of time speaking negatively of the people in LA County (as he was running for a seat in Ventura County) while he will be expected to represent those people this time around.

    April 23, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. Leftcoastrocky

    where are those tax returns, Mitt? what are you hiding?

    April 23, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. karek40

    I wish all of the politicians who have made a lifetime out of politics would retire (both parties). They are the ones who have gotten us into the mess we are in and do not have the intelligence to get us out, they are only interested in getting re-elected.

    April 23, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Simi Valley, California. They acquitted Rodney King's attackers. Enough said.

    April 23, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Sure things would be better under Romney.... He would have changed the tax code where he barely paid a dime while those of us that actually work for a living would be taxed up the wazoo. Good thing you all love the Hunger Games because we'd definitely be living in them by now. While he and Queen Anne look down on us peasants from their mansion. I'm also curious to know if any of you know Congress' role? You blame everything bad on Obama like he was elected King not POTUS. Congress is supposed to work with him not against him. But what have they done in 5 years except whine and criticize. You people talk about Romney wasn't this his 3rd try at POTUS?

    April 23, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. alfonso soso

    Good show Mr. Romney. Back a professional politian for congress who has never done anything else. Some democracy we have.

    April 23, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Glennardo

    Follow the money....follow Romney

    April 23, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  12. mike trottier

    Mitt Romney is still,.....THE WORST REPUBLICAN ON THE PLANET

    April 23, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Mike

    Rand Paul has all of his father's bad traits and none of his good ones.

    April 23, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  14. gtx

    This sounds like Nixon again. He lost too.

    April 23, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Vince De Vargas

    Go, Tony!!!

    April 23, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. julie de wolff

    Whoever runs for whatever office should have to announce what $$$ above $1000 donors have given to their campaign and what the donor expects in payback if successfully wins the election. Our country is being run by unelected lobbyists and big pocket donors not by the elected people. Also campaigns should not begin the minute the race is won and the country gets neglected. Campaigns shouold be only 6 weeks long with NO tv advertising.

    April 23, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. J. McILROY

    Mitt Romneys' endorsement of former state assemblyman Tony Strickland is an abomination. To me, this is just another example of the stupidity of this former presidential candidate, where he has co concept what-so-ever as to what is really behind the candidate for the 25th congressional district of California. Tony Strickland is nothing more then a RINO like Senator John McCain of Arizona or his fellow senator there in Arizona, Jeff Flake.

    April 23, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  18. Mark

    The Tea Bagger who flipped out at Romney is a perfect example of why the GOP will continue to lose. They seem to think that there's some untapped well of conservative white people that stayed home during the last two elections. The GOP lost because they are too conservative, not because they're too moderate. If they run a true conservative... Hillary will win with 400+ electoral votes.

    April 24, 2014 12:20 am at 12:20 am |

    Can't wait to see Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Rove,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats Mitt the twit style.

    April 24, 2014 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
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