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. OrygunDuck

    I would respect him more if he actually accepted the credit for Obamacare that he deserves.

    April 23, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. rs

    It is good that the GOP is trying to beat back the nut cases of the TEA Party, but using people who lack any sense of morality, or reality about anyone but the 1% is going to be a tough sell. No one could figure out Romney's position on anything prior to the last election, and when he made statements ("Obama sold Jeep to China"), he lied.

    This is an important battle for the soul of the GOP: the incompetent vs. the insane.

    April 23, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    President Obama drops more class and intelligence in the bathroom every morning than Mittens has in his entire body.

    April 23, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. radar8

    Finally. Romney is acting like a proper uber-rich dude. He's getting people elected.

    Gone are the days when the average citizen voted to determine who will run in primaries and general elections. Now, the very rich and powerful do that. They fund the primaries and choose those that will do their bidding.. Then we, the citizens, get to vote for one of the chosen ones.

    April 23, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. TiredOfPaying

    Sometimes, Mitt Doesn't Happen. I am very thankful for that.

    April 23, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  6. smith1

    this dull ol guy seems to be endorsing people all over the place. I have seen his adds in my state too. Wonder if he really knows these people very well ????

    April 23, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. rs


    Romney still speaking sense.
    NOW I know your problem! Shoot, nailing Mr. Romney down on ANYTHING works about as well as trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. I'll give him this though- he's a far better representative of the (old) GOP than any of the anti-American TEA Party candidates. Those folks ought to be in jail.

    April 23, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. Madison

    Unfit mitt is STILL the best the sorry grumpy old party can muster? Where are the young rising stars? Where are the elder statesmen? Where are the intellectuals? A crusty old multi time loser is really a superstar?

    April 23, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  9. rs


    Wish he was in the White House.
    What? As the Door man?

    April 23, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. just me

    Tom l, disagree all you want. It's still true. Democrats have been in the minority in the past, but they never flatly refused to work with the majority. The gop has done that for five years and counting.

    April 23, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. Calvin

    Can anyone provide a link that explains who this person is?

    April 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Silence DoGood

    You are all mad because he has been proven to be right, instead of the one you put in the WH
    He was "right" in the same way a monkey banging on a keyboard will generate one random series of letters that forms a word once in a while.

    April 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  13. Ace

    How can we miss you if you won't go away?

    April 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Log

    These comments regarding MR are funny. The guy is a class act that would have made an excellent president. All your silly comments don't change that fact.

    April 23, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  15. Not Too Hard To Understand

    Remember when this guy ran for President and got crushed in an electoral landslide? So do we.

    April 23, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. rs


    These comments regarding MR are funny. The guy is a class act that would have made an excellent president. All your silly comments don't change that fact.
    yeah, calling half of Americans (including retirees, veterans, poor people and the disabled) "moochers" and "takers"- soooo classy! Not!

    April 23, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. asdrel

    "Gone are the days when the average citizen voted to determine who will run in primaries and general elections"
    When did that ever happen? Those with money and power have generally had more influence on who runs and who gets elected than the "average citizen". There may be exceptions, such as Lincoln in 1860, but they are few and far between.

    April 23, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. rs

    critical thinking

    He was right about Russia, maybe he is right about this candidate too.
    What possible connection exists between Russia and this candidate?

    April 23, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. Trollolol

    Blows my mind how many people hate Romney. He received 46% of the popular vote, clearly a big chunk of Americans liked him. The guy even had more experience governing than Obama did pre-presidency.

    April 23, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. Stephan

    Ah yes, 'ol Mitt again.......................the biggest ego money can buy! You're FIRED Mitt, again!

    April 23, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. CommonSense

    Well the jury is still out on if Romney is actually helping people get elected!!! Considering he didn't much for himself in either presidential run....also I've never agree with the TeaParty folks but this time I do... Mitt need to go retire somwhere!!!

    April 23, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Dee Wan

    It's amazing that Mitt and others in the GOP (Government Opposition Party) still use that tired phrase about creating jobs. That lie is totally worn out and never was true. People have been getting wise to the GOP alliance with the wealthy.
    With apologies to "Seinfeld", "No votes for you!"

    April 23, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. Lizzie

    The Mormons are not going to relent until they see the "White Horse Prophecy" divined by their inventor, Joseph Smith, come to pass.
    - and so it came that their old leader Harry Reid (a MORMON) wears the invincible pants.

    April 23, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  24. Jackson


    These comments regarding MR are funny. The guy is a class act that would have made an excellent president. All your silly comments don't change that fact.


    Governor Mitt Romney said Romneycare would be the model for the country.
    Presidential nominee Romney disagreed.

    Governor Mitt Romney spoke about coal plants that killed people and said he would not support it.
    Presidential nominee Romney supported coal production.

    How exactly are you a "class act" when you change your tune on things you said as Governor and wanted to sweep under the rug now that you are running for President and need to kowtow to special interest?


    April 23, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. geno marcello

    Mitt Romney is still the strongest candidate for the 2016 Presidential election that the Republican Party has come up with. Another good candidate would be Scott Brown, the person who served out Ted Kennedy's Senatorial term in Massachusetts. If Romney ran again with the right choice for Vice President, he would win. Many Americans who voted for Barack Obama in the last Presidential election now realize how wrong they were in their selection.

    April 23, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
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