First on CNN: Romney takes sides in GOP primary battle
April 23rd, 2014
08:46 AM ET
8 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. R Thomas Berner

    Is Romney Nixon Redux?

    April 23, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. sifto

    The man who should be president

    April 23, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |

    Who cares who this GOP RETREAD says, the FIVE TIME GOP LOSER for elected office is a PRIME example of GOP tax cheats and not representing the people that vote for them , the voters being the suckers they are voting AGAINEST their own interest. Time to vote AGAINEST all GOP incompetent PAYED OFF CLOWNS in November!!!!!!!

    April 23, 2014 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. veep

    3 of the least popular Republicans in 2014:
    GW Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney.

    April 23, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "CNN has learned that Wednesday Romney will endorse Tony Strickland for Congress in California's 25th district, to succeed longtime GOP Rep. Buck McKeon."

    CNN has certainly spent a great deal of energy endorsing Mitt Romney of late.

    "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."

    Perhaps it is better for CNN to start ignoring memo's from "top advisers" to Mitt Romney. They haven't exactly been offering winning advise either to Mitt Romney or CNN's political team of memo collection gone wild (if coverage of Mitt Romney is to be taken seriously - which most Americans have probably had enough of).

    Indeed. I would suggest that political journalists stop the influx of Republican memo "rah – rah" and begin their own "walking the beat" coverage.

    April 23, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  6. Regressive

    Well I am no fan of Romney, but I am even less of a fan of the tea party candidates, talk about being stuck on stupid, there is no chance in H€|| one of those crazies can get elected. The Republican Party simply needs a total makeover, which of course the tea party craze is attempting to do. I salute them for that, but from the looks of things it's going to take a while.

    April 23, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  7. Solomon Walker

    No vote.

    April 23, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  8. Shep2020

    Please proceed, Governor.

    April 23, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |

    There was a man call mitt romney who did too little too late with tax havens and offshore accounts. He was a rich man he was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan/ Rich from birth, raised in prep schools, no early exposure to minorities outside of maids, a powerful daddy to clean up his misstepss . timely exemptions from military service What a dope this trust fund baby was. His tax-cut math just doesn't add up. He never had to earn anything he talk smack about 47% not paying taxes and responsibility to care for them, Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing you-name-it. He said saved business with “creative destruction." It's the age-old theory that the new must constantly attack the old to bring efficiency to the economy, even if some are destroyed along the way, mitt was born-insecure, he understand the hardships facing ordinary Americans. For example, one of his cars was out of gas so he have to pump his own gas he know hardship. born-insecure, jock-jawed ! His Tax policy are made up of small mystical creatures and health problems are already solved through the miracle of .emergency rooms! He loves being able to fire people who provide services to him. mitt the twit is not concerned about the very poor because We have a safety net there. He lost to a man with unemployment at 8% /Now look at him shiver. Beg for mercy, rich man.

    April 23, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  10. Martin

    When your biggest "stars" are a one term Governor and twice failed Presidential Candidate (Romney), a half term Governor and failed VP Candidate (Palin), a two term Senator who only passed two bills of little significance in eight years (Bachmann), and a Canadian Cuban trying to become President of the United States (Cruz), your party is in trouble.

    April 23, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. critical thinking

    He was right about Russia, maybe he is right about this candidate too.

    April 23, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. bilk7

    Does anybody really think Mitt Romney can generate any excitiement outisde the establishment branch of the GOP for any candidate?

    April 23, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. RenegadeFL

    If Thurston Howell had actually won we would have troops in Afghanistan, Irag, Iran, Syria and Ukraine right now.

    April 23, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. truthbetold1226

    Governor, before you do ANYTHING, please show the AMERICAN PEOPLE your income tax returns for the last 11 years, just like ALL presidential candidates, including YOUR FATHER have always done.

    Governor, one of the reasons Obama beat you in the last election is because YOU DIDN'T SHOW YOUR INCOME TAX RETURNS.

    One doesn't have to be a ROCKET SCIENTIST to know that your income tax returns will prove that your are the type that says one thing but does another.. Prove me wrong, show your income taxes.. I will bet the kitchen sink, that your income taxes show where you are a miserable tax cheat. Offshore accounts to keep from paying your due.. Shame on you Romney..The GOP is in so much turmoil, that a black man beat them twice..Can't go any lower than that Romney.

    April 23, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Mike

    Romney has every right to endorse a candidate. We have the right to accept or refuse that advice. Move on.

    April 23, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  16. Tampa Tim

    Car elevators are people too, my friend.

    April 23, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  17. J Anthony

    Another sign of how desperate the GOP is...regressives in action. Romney is another Repub who thinks our government should be run like a private corporation from the early 20th century, hopefully Americans are smarter than that

    April 23, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    How much does Willard think his $10,000 gift to Bob McDonnell's legal fund going to help? Accepting gifts is what got McDonnell in trouble to begin with. And what's with Willard and $10,000? Isn't he a multi-millionaire?

    April 23, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  19. Ron L

    Frankly, I would l LOVE to see EVERY Tea Party candidate to win their Primary. Then, if we are lucky the rest of the American electorate will participate in the November election and 75% of those Republicans will lose and MAYBE just maybe they will come to the realization MOST of America does not want to go to the far right. We NEED Moderate Republicans, and Moderate Democrats that can meet and work toward getting our country on the right path. Here is what is needed:
    1) Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 to get 100's of thousands of Americans off of SNAP, Public Assistance, and
    the Earned Income Tax Credit. This will reduce the deficit by BILLIONS of dollars and done smartly will actually
    boost the economy.
    2) Close some of the extremely unfair tax loop holes in the tax code for the ultra-rich. There needs to be a minimum
    tax paid by all Americans. For someone earning $60,000 a year to pay close to 30% federal tax and a person
    making $1 million dollars (or more) and pay 18%. IS NOT FAIR and hurts the economy. WHY?? you ask. Right
    now revenues are so low there really isn't funding available to do things that need to be done.
    3) Need to figure out a means to get medical CARE cost under control. There needs to be laws passed to make the
    process more transparent. Pricing should be posted BY LAW. Then it will become a truly competitive environment.
    it is ridiculous and insulting that the same procedure in one hospital can be 30% more in another and they are in
    the same state only 200 miles apart. If people knew this ahead of time I am sure most would go to the place
    offering the service at a lower cost.
    NONE of these reasonable suggestions have a chance without MODERATE politicians in Washington. The ONLY way to change this is to vote OUT the radical voices of both parties of the mainstream of politics.

    April 23, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  20. James Hall

    Maybe Romney should take up painting.

    April 23, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  21. Joseph Brown

    Sorry, Mittens. Not everyone gets a Presidential library.

    April 23, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  22. Gregg Dearth

    Now that Romney has been shown to have been RIGHT about Russia as a geo-political foe, Obamacare as a flawed health care initiative, deficits, Afghanistan, etc. MAYBE the media will finally treat his views with a little more R E S P E C T, which he can actually spell correctly thanks to his first rate intellect and education.

    April 23, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    McKeon's endorsement counts for more than Romney's. Judson Phillips is correct in asking if the GOP is stuck on stupid. Another example of also-ran's and mediocre talents flailing around trying to be relevant.

    April 23, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. kurtinco

    Romney, go away. You had your chance and you screwed it up...again and again. Bugger off already.

    April 23, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  25. ritmocojo

    "I will repeal Obamacare on day one of my presidency." Mitt Romney

    April 23, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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