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. Seattle Sue

    Romney's new starring role. I always thought of Romney as a "B" actor, like Ronald Reagan was during his acting career. Second rate.

    April 23, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. Libdumb

    Too bad we didn't have a President with class and leadership skills.

    April 23, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. Bubba Ray

    We need more Republicans like Judson Phillips. Yeeeehaw!!!

    April 23, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. Jeff

    Romney would have led far better than Obama has. He was right about Russia, right on not being able to keep your doctor and plan in a lot of cases, and right about us needing someone in the highest office that can work both sides of the aisle. Obama was wrong about Russia, wrong about people being able to keep their doctors and plans, and refuses to work across the aisle. We have no right to complain about those things...we were told the truth and didn't listen.

    April 23, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  5. conoclast

    Not knowing when to quit can only be seen as further evidence of Romney's delusion. Of course, what else might we have expected?

    April 23, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. Rosslaw

    Romney's the proponent of that cherished conservative value-money laundering overseas.

    April 23, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    The biggest LOSER speaks again.

    April 23, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. John Tighe

    Jeff seems to forget that Romney is the "Romney" in Romneycare.
    The only thing Romney is good at is selling out the US to make himself richer.

    April 23, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  9. Dave

    New role? Nope- same old same old from the delusional, out-of-touch partisan hack. Go away already. Your money misses you.

    April 23, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  10. TomGI

    Mitt, stay out of California politics.

    April 23, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. James

    another rich looser – america denounced him once and does not care for him in most roles. I'm beginning to see the forefathers where smarter than I gave them credit, the voters can deny you the biggest political seat in the US.
    As far as LIBDUMB's comments, we do have an extremely classy president with marvelous leadership skill – what is sad is you can't see greatness especially if you think people like Mr. Moneybags is good for this country ... you're snorting to much of the bad stuff and not living in reality. Hows the air up there where you keep your nose?

    April 23, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  12. jimPNW

    The truth is neither him or Palin was right. The Russians are not strong enough to do any harm to US. The EU has to take care of this and let it run its course. The AHC is working better than the Repubs was hoping for and by mid terms it will only play between TPers and establishment Repubs, not the majority of people. IF you keep putting up 1% or CCC types [crazy cubian Canadian[ then you deserve the leadership you are voting for against your own best interest.

    April 23, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. Sergeant

    The only thing that would make a romney endorsement worse is if palin also endorsed you.

    April 23, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. iReason

    There is nothing bigger on the planet than this politicians ambition. He will do ANYTHING to get the empire.

    This is exactly the type of person we do not need another of in our government.

    April 23, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. ST

    Hard to believe. GOP, we have already known your secret. You are keeping Romney in the news every now and then, so that he will jump onto Presidential bid again come 2016. Do you think 47% are all dead? They are still alive and well. Quite funny how you can repeat the same mistake !

    April 23, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    I agree that Romney represents the moderates in the GOP, and after the excesses of the Dem, it will take true conservatives, to return us to any solvency in this country, We are truly on the verge of bankruptcy, as a country.

    April 23, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Rooney

    If Romney is a B actor I guess that would make Obama an F actor and barely a president.

    April 23, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. smorkingapple

    Yeah, that's the ticket. Hitch your party's future to a two time loser. I root you on Mr Romney!!!

    April 23, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. blakenaustin

    Romney would be a huge improvement over Obama, but his is not a conservative. When will the GOP wise up and come to terms with the fact that this nation needs conservative leadership. The last time a conservative ran for president, he won twice in landslides - Reagan.

    Great quote by Phillips in this article: "Is the GOP stuck on stupid? Why does the Republican Party listen to losers?" And please pay no attention to the GOP candidate promoted by the far left media, like Christie and Bush. They selected McCain in 2008. Wise up!

    April 23, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I love how people love to say Romney would have done better. Sure he would have. For one thing the dems aren't nearly as nasty as the GOP. They wouldn't refuse to work with Romney. No one would be running around saying he's not one of us. No one including the MSM would dare disrespect Anne. After all she looks like all the previous First Ladies and he looks like all the previous Presidents.

    Romney is nothing more than elitist snob that was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth who thinks he's entitled to be POTUS.

    April 23, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. james griffin

    I would never seek the endorsement of a loser like Romney. He lost in 2012 because he was out worked!! He thought his money and the fact that people hated Pres. Obama would be good enough to win so he decided to stray from his message. When is he going to reach out to minorities and offer them a fair share of the pie? Until he does that, the GOP will be in deep trouble for years to come.

    April 23, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. SkepticalOne

    The GOP is a dysfunctional family. In most of the country, any candidate who can win the TEA party vote in the primary is too crazy to get elected in the general.

    April 23, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. langor1

    I'm amazed he didn't get elected and hope he runs again.

    April 23, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. tom l

    "For one thing the dems aren't nearly as nasty as the GOP."


    Ohhh, I think I'd disagree. It's a tie.

    April 23, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. Ed Zachary

    "Is the GOP stuck on stupid? Why does the Republican Party listen to losers?" asked Judson Phillips. – Based on that logic, we would certainly not support the Tea Party, which has managed to elect only enough candidates to disrupt, never enough to actually govern.

    April 23, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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