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. Al-NY,NY

    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.

    at least he got incompetant correct. He must have pulled the dictionary for that

    April 23, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. rs


    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.
    Your sense of superiority is greatly misplaced. The 47% include our parents, the poor kids down the street, widows, orphans, veterans and more. The country can not be sustainable with just the 1%. The rich can only survive as long as there are people they can sell to. After that, they're finished too.

    April 23, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. Rudy NYC


    Romney is beginning to remind me of Palin
    Yup, they're both unemployed.

    April 23, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Mr. Wise.

    Romney is a dangerous dude for the progress of our nation.Twice is 2 times too much,give it a rest.

    April 23, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Five sons all avoided military service .

    GOP Rep. Buck McKeon. The House Armed Services committee chairman .

    April 23, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. danomite

    With Romney and Palin shaping the future of the GOP, the Democrats should win many elections for years to come!

    April 23, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. z2cents

    Had it been Romney, we would have been in the Ukraine at war with Russia.

    April 23, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. Brian

    "Is the GOP stuck on stupid? Why does the Republican Party listen to losers?" asked Judson Phillips. ...... Amen.

    April 23, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. JohnRJohnson

    If Romney were a leader within the GOP, his endorsement might make some sense. But he's a two-time loser who perpetrated the liberal sin of mandated health care when governor of Massachusetts. On top of that, the guy's about as anti-populist as you can possibly get. Not exactly going to light a fire under conservative voters.

    April 23, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. korkea aika

    Mitt Romney came dangerously close to becoming the President of the US, until he "outted" himself as an plutocratic elitist who was ready to write off 50% of the US population with his politics. I don't want to hear from him anymore.

    April 23, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Dave1157

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

    If that's true, the Republican party is in serious trouble. Nobody wanted to listen to this clown in 2012, and nobody wants to listen to him now. A Romney endorsement is not what most of us would consider an asset in the political arena. But he's already proven how far he's detached from reality. This should be amusing.

    April 23, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. dinkydow

    Ironically, Romney need only say "see I was right" and "look who lied to you, not Republicans"......Democrats are going to have to lie, cheat and steal every vote they get. And, I have full confidence they can and will do their best at each as that's their way.

    April 23, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. kc

    Massatissets under Govenor Romoney was 48 in job creation!!!!!!!!! i LOVE THAT STATISTIC !!!!!!

    April 23, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. HankLion

    "... to bring California's crippling deficit under control. He will do the same in Congress," wrote Romney in a statement acquired by CNN."

    Then pray tell why does he want to leave CA if he wants to do the same he has been doing always? He doesn't need to be in Washington if he wants to keep track of Sacramento's budget...

    April 23, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. kc

    Repubs are a bad habit of the past,thank goodness

    April 23, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Vence

    Hey Romney! How the self-deportation thing is working right now!

    April 23, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. kc

    Somebody at work told me that i should have voted for Romoney .......He told me that Romney was a hard worker that never had anything growing up ! And i laughed at him and said that Romney has never worked a day in his life and ask him if he knew that Mitts dad was a govenor that was as crooked as Mitt and he said he didnt know that !!!!!

    April 23, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. geno marcello

    Mitt Romney and people like him have the answers to the economic and military problems of America. If these problems are not solved quickly, the rest of the world suffers and America will be drawn into it. Right now, Russia is in a war zone because of its economy, and the blame must be shared by America and the Obama Administration.

    April 23, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. J Anthony

    @Scott: man i feel bad for u. Do u actually beleve that!? The people who voted forRomney did so because they hate Obama and would have voted for anyone the RNC shoved in their face. The guy has no essence and is completely clueless about averagge working Americans(that is, most of us). Wake up pal

    April 23, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. USA

    Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin are intelligent people that some of you cannot understand. They speak the' truth' and some of you people get confused by it..

    April 23, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. Jme

    He sure looks good compared to Obama now. We could have had a president that actually would have been good for America.

    April 23, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. greasemonkey

    Hey Mitt........

    ....if you are truly concerned about the debt that we are building for our children......then you are going to need to pay more than 15% on the 50K you make EVERY DAY.......

    April 23, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Dude I'll give you Mitt might be intelligent but Sarah Palin is dumb as a stump. She's got one thing going for her though... She's a decent looking woman but once she opens her mouth.... Forget about it.

    April 23, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. John

    I can see if Romney was actually elected but he wasn't so I wish he would just go away and take Sarah with him.

    April 23, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. Hunu

    Forgive him, Mr. Phillips. He must have alzheimer to forget who he is.

    April 23, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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