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. Dadster

    So now the real war begins....
    People like Romney will use their money to try and defeat the Tea Party's money.
    Can you and your supporters take the Republican party back or will the Tea Party, who turned on you like a school of pirahnas after the 2012 election, hold you off. TIme will tell.

    April 23, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. bobo

    I wish he were President... we ALL would be much better off and we wouldn't have to deal with all the lies....

    April 23, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. rs

    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.
    I dunno- as you say, they are both politicians- a special class, no doubt.
    But seriously-look at the GOP:
    Taking food away from poor children to support tax cuts to the rich;
    Wrecking public education at every turn in favor of "for profit" education;
    Taking away a woman's right to choose, and fundamentally interfering with women's health care (all the while advocating for war, capital punishment, and all sorts of anti-humanity laws);
    The whole "religion" position of the GOP borders on mental illness (i.e. it is neither "religious" or based in common American values);

    There is real evil in the GOP, and it transcends the base greed and lust for the rich- but something that has very deep dark roots in behavior and belief that harkens to truly dark moments in human history where propaganda, punishment, pain and abuse live.

    April 23, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. callmecrazy

    Romney would have made an excellent Democrat.

    April 23, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. rs


    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.
    No doubt- more political experience. everything else however-
    Romney was a destroyer- using "creative destruction" to dismantle and preserve the distilled "value" of broken and/or corrupt corporations- not for the workers, but for their rich investors. Romney cares nothing, knows nothing of the working classes. His Bain Capital may have been responsible for the loss of a million jobs to China- all for profits. Remember? His solution for GM? Send it down. Milk it dry- forget about the workers.

    Mr. Obama is a builder- of consensus, and identity- that which the Right derides as "community organizer"; 12 years as a Constitutional law professor (at U. of Chicago); a lawyer, and ivy league educated, Mr. Obama is also a supporter of civil rights and human rights. Everything his programs are designed for help average Americans- not just the 1%.

    April 23, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. sly

    Mitt is the 1%. And no, he doesn't pay any taxes.

    Perfect representative for the Party of 1%. That's about all the Republicans support these days.

    April 23, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Gunderson

    The 47 percent are alive and well. Now if they would only book their own lives instead of expecting the 1 Percent to do it. Hope you have a good retirement plan.

    April 23, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. RonB from Pittsburgh

    "Mitt Romney is the most prominent and engaged elder statesman the GOP has on the national stage right now," added Merrill.

    I guess he's never heard of John McCain.

    April 23, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    "Tony will fight to limit government spending and support economic policies designed to create jobs. ... ..."
    Republicans have the singularly unique talent for cutting spending while growing the debt and deficits at the same time.

    April 23, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. lou

    Mittbot cannot make a dent for the fledging GOP. The party is over for them.

    April 23, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Scott

    Romney has more intelligence and more knowledge of how things should be run in his index finger than Obama has in his whole body – we'd be MUCH better off if this man – with intelligence, integrity and morals – would have gotten elected instead of Obama – I can't believe how BLIND some of you people are!! Romney nailed the issue with Russia in the debates and Obama laughed him off – NOW everyone sees that Obama was the stupid one and Romney knew what he was talking about – when is this country going to wake up and stop electing these empty suits who sound good on the stump and say what we want to hear and promise all the hand outs but have NO depth or substance!!

    April 23, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Stu in Iowa

    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.'.

    A bigger chunk didn't like Old Flopsweat and for good reason, he isn't Presidential material. The only reason he left office in Mass is because the polls showed he wouldn't be re-elected. Maybe Mass knows something you don't?

    April 23, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Bobo thinks Romney is honest??? Dude did you just crawl out from under a rock or something? Mittens entire campaign was one huge lie after another. He changed stances faster than many people change their underwear.

    April 23, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. 1alien1

    Romney is beginning to remind me of Palin

    April 23, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. Lewis

    My god the Republican Party is such a miserable failure. 26% approval rating and they still fight amongst themselves making their public image even worse. They will never win another presidential election. Even if Obama isn't perfect, he always makes the democrats the better of two evils. I mean compare who the democrats chose for the presidential canadate to what republicans chose.
    Obama: grew up in middle class, young, charismatic, supports the working poor, and stresses equality.
    Romney: old rich white guy... Again.

    April 23, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Denise

    Good grief, please go away!

    April 23, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Luc

    What future for the GOP, Romney give yourself a shake you just got your but kicked in the last election. What can you possibly offer that will be of any significance. I guess he needs to take time off selling companies and taking jobs over seas. If anything this is why the GOP will loose in 2016.

    April 23, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. penguin

    Romney is even more irrelevant than McCain.

    April 23, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Bob

    US citizens had better start paying attention to the next elections and get out and vote for competent canidates.
    Too many politicans getting arrested for fraud.
    The current leadership is out of control, IRS employees get bonuses regardless of owing tax monies, medicare/mediaide pays dead people. And you wonder why I don't want to pay anymore taxes?
    Im fed up with incompetent politicans, fat cats who think their above the people they represent.

    April 23, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Name

    He's not done yet. Bye Mitt

    April 23, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Strrickland is a carpetbagger. He changes districts to seek public office more often that people change their underwear. Both he and his wife are addicted to eating from the public trough.

    Romeny could make a much better choice of candidates to support that Tony Strickland.

    April 23, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Ken

    Radar 8 – I think your antenna is broken. Where in the article does it say anything about Mitt Romney using his wealth to get people elected? It simply states that he will endorse the candidate. You do know what endorse means dont' you?

    April 23, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Jason

    I am so glad that he lost....Amurica dodged a bullet

    April 23, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. iceload

    So the poster boy of corporate greed is out again. What would really be interesting is if he took a stand beyond GOP tired talking points and trickle down economics. But I guess we'll never see that day.

    April 23, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. Steven Gold

    Can't we all just get behind the guy with the magic underwear, who baptized his dead father-in-law (who did not want the Mormon religion) and rejects and health plan that closely resembles the plan he came up with for his state.
    Honestly that's the kind of guy that will take this country in to the next century.

    April 23, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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