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. Bob

    Yes, do keep Romney around, he's a great reminder of why we didn't Republican last time. McCain is an even better one, of course, but they are trying their best to put a bag over his head.

    April 23, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. Kerfluffle

    He 'plans to play an influential role'? Is that with the same chutzpah that he 'planned on being President'?

    California seems to have a LDS infestation...

    April 23, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. Fgeeman

    I thought we were done with this loser? We should have run him out of the country instead of letting him mouth off and try to ruin us again. What is wrong with the Republican party? They need to get their act together and CLEAN HOUSE !!!!

    April 23, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  4. Kerfluffle

    Mittens will endorse every candidate on alternating days, in his true Flip Flopney style.

    I was for him before I was against him, redux.

    April 23, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. KD Phoenix

    Poor California. If Romney is endorsing Tony Strickland, that's reason enough to vote against the guy right there.

    April 23, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Gunderson

    Romney still speaking sense. Now we can't have that! Pretty soon people will sober up and realize they were had last Election. So please keep quiet Romney we don't need more bad news. Being successful is not in Vogue these days. So lets all get drunk and be somebody!!

    April 23, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Jeff, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Romney dismissed almost half of the US population, so how do you think he could reach across the aisle? His sole reason for passing Romneycare in MA was to pad his resume for the presidency. And what do you really think he could have done to prevent the annexation of the Crimea? Nothing. The idea that Romney was somehow this sage on foreign policy is laughable, given his utter lack of interest on the topic between presidential runs. Is there a Romney doctrine that people could use a blueprint? Nope, not even a vague outline. His thoughts on foreign policy make Ryan's budget plans look like genius and packed full of details. He throws out vague nostrums to keep the whackjob chorus happy, since they call the shots on everything, and Romney is the biggest panderer the GOP has produced in a generation.

    April 23, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Al-NY,NY

    Mr car elevator, "corporations are people too" and I pay as much as much as I need to is trying to be relevant....again. What a waste of time and effort. Go back to your big house, maybe fly to the Caymens to take a bath in your millions of dollars of hidden $ and GO AWAY!!

    April 23, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Ace

    Glad he came off his mountain to do this for the mortals.

    April 23, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. robt1687

    Many people are talking about how Romney lost and should quit playing the game. I've often wondered when receiving 47% of the popular vote meant that everyone disagrees with you. It actually means that slighlty less than half the country supported the guy, so I think he still has a role to play. That's one reason this country is so divided. No matter who wins the presidency, it's rarely by more than a handful of percentage points in the popular vote. For some reason, the winner always seems to think that is a mandate to completely ignore the people who voted for the losing candidate.

    April 23, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. Gurgyl

    --Bob Dole is one hundred percent right in saying none of these republican bunch is worth for thinking. None of these GOP guys are worth for a dime, nor worth to apply for cook jobs in WH.
    PS: please do not go to clef-checkouts. They sack your jobs to buy China goods.

    April 23, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. Armor66

    Romney may not have been the best president if he had been elected, but the looser, lair, and incompetent we have in office in his stead is a far, far worse alternative.

    April 23, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Yes it's true, some people are just stuck on stupid especially those of you who aren't in the 1%.

    April 23, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. The other guy

    And Heeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrreeeee comes the hate! Why do you keep dangling this poor guy out there, CNN?
    Try and deliver some real, objective news.

    April 23, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. Silence DoGood

    "Is the GOP stuck on stupid? Why does the Republican Party listen to losers?" asked Judson Phillips.
    The GOP courted the conspiracy theorists, the radical christian extremists, and the racists to get a few votes. Now they wonder why all these nut cases are following them around. You bought it, you own it, you deal with it.

    April 23, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. stewart

    watch as the GOP eats their own. good job Mitt now just go away

    April 23, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Marcus

    Instead of the GOP spending all their time tryoing to shape a party, why don't they spend some time on trying to improve America? I guess there's no personal financial gain in that for them.

    April 23, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. Jabbadahut

    You are all mad because he has been proven to be right, instead of the one you put in the WH

    April 23, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Mark

    The Tea Party killed Romney and put useless Obama back in office

    April 23, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  20. Michael Johnson

    These blog comments are clearly why this country is in trouble. Rommey is a good man – I don't agree with him on several issues, but I do respect his right to voice his opinion. Yet, he is being bitterly attacked. We will not become a good country again until all the parties and politicians think Country First and Party Second. Sadly, the bulk of the politicians think Party First, and who cares about Second. A sorry state.

    April 23, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. ldean50

    The Mormons are not going to relent until they see the "White Horse Prophecy" divined by their inventor, Joseph Smith, come to pass.

    April 23, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....


    That would be loser and liar. At least learn to spell before you criticize the POTUS. The funny thing is Willard wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire. He hates the poor. And there's no way someone that can't even spell loser or liar is wealthy.

    April 23, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Wish he was in the White House.

    April 23, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. Chenoweth

    Didn't Mitt just contribute 10 large to Fmr. Gov. Bob McDonnell's defense fund–remember those grabby hands for "gifts, Loans, Shopping Sprees." while Gov. of Va., the Vaginal Prober promoter. Mitt should really stay home, and count his money in his off-shore accounts, tiresome self-purposed attention junkie.

    April 23, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  25. Libdumb

    Only to have someone like you with class and intelligence Mitt as our leader.

    April 23, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
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