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. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Sniffits reply to Rick at the bottom of the IRS article was priceless!!!

    Reynolds thanks you for being their # 1 consumer of tinfoil!!!!

    OMG Sniffitt that was right on time!!!😄

    April 23, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Hector Slagg

    Holy BS,
    Rudy says.
    The Republicans have the singularly unique talent of cutting spending while growing the debt and deficits at the same time
    So why is that happening Rudy? Couldn't be all of those 47 percent getting benefits, could it? Why Rudy after 100 years of Big Liberal Social Programs things are no better than the 1930's? If the Liberal Plan was working there would be no 18 Trillion Dollar Federal debt.

    April 23, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Kinard

    I wish this side order of slime would take the hint, go away and stay gone.

    April 23, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Tim


    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..

    This just has to be sarcasm...Romney may not be the brightest bulb on the planet but Sarah Palin takes the top award for moronic, misguided stupidity. The list of stupid things that she has said and done is impressive. All she has is good handlers that keep her in the spotlight to those misguided and deluded enough to think she actually has something of any import. She is undoubtedly our nations biggest embarrassment. Don't think so? Ask a Canadian sometime what they think of her. Or a European. Go ahead, ask.

    April 23, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Dr. Mantis

    Romney??? Oh yeah, he was the presidential candidate that had an actual resume and actually accomplished real things, as opposed to giving speeches...

    April 23, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Treppie

    It would be fun to see Willard join Sarah while she stands in front of a giant turkey killing machine. Then, Mitt with his 47 percent comments and not one of his guys stuck a sock in his mouth? Their handlers aren't the sharpest in the drawer either!

    April 23, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Jme wrote:

    He sure looks good compared to Obama now. We could have had a president that actually would have been good for America.
    I don't see how electing a multi-milli8noaire so that he can sign laws that eliminate him being taxed is "good for America."

    April 23, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Treppie

    Hector, did you really have a history teacher that said the Dems were in office since 1930?

    April 23, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Monomachos

    Romney would have been a great president. His experience building and managing a successful company, turning around an Olympics that was headed for failure and governing a state in which he wiped out a deficit, improved the average per capita income, gave voters what they wanted for healthcare, and left a rainy day fund that helped the state through the recession show skills that would translate into a successful presidency. Reading the comments here, I see that the Obama campaign did a masterful job with its lies and innuendos about the man and what he would do. Too bad too many voters don't take the time to find out the truth.

    April 23, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. CryBabies

    Rudy NYC.... You could have stopped at " I don't see....." The rest was one sided hogwash.

    April 23, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Joe

    Gov. Romney would have made a great president. Unfortunately the idiot in the White House was re-elected by an even bigger group of dependent idiots.

    April 23, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Bookenz

    Still waiting to see all those tax returns Mitt.

    April 23, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Brian from DC

    Can someone explain to me how the loser of the last election is supposed to select the winner of the next election?

    April 23, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. sly

    Thank God Himself American's trounced Romney in a landslide.

    These are good times for America, and President Obama has been one of the most sucessful President in history:

    -record stock market
    -record 401k
    -40% reduction in the deficit THIS YEAR alone
    -killed America's #1 enemy of all time
    -no foreign terrorist attacks
    -BEST OF ALL: The First President in 35 years to not start a war.

    Good choice Americans: and we are prospering because of your good judgement.

    April 23, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. He WHAT?

    Romney was right about Russia; right about the economy and is a decent, experienced, able man with a spine.

    He took CNNs disgracefully dishonest hammering – when they were acting as Obama's campaign managers – like a MAN.......................all Obama does about the Republicans is lie and whine!

    Look at Obama's long list of fails and ask yourselves
    [1] Are the mindless liberal low information voters ashamed of what they foisted on the country
    [2] Stop bashing Romney and do it where it NEEDS to be done - in Obama's direction!

    April 23, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Romney is a fool and so are those who buy his schtick

    Romney is only out for #1. Hey folks, that's the 1%. He already wrote off 47% of the country. The remaining 52% eventually will be too. And all this is yours if you vote republican!

    April 23, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. The republican schtick

    Romney is only out for #1. Hey folks, that's the 1%. He already wrote off 47% of the country. The remaining 52% eventually will be too. And all this is yours if you vote republican!

    April 23, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. ART

    Oh boy the wind sock man returns, so whom ever he endorses,just wait till the wind starts blowing in another direction

    April 23, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Lee

    Romney has come to realize that the Tea Party was a liability to him, not an asset. Had he not drunk the Tea, and regurgitated the Tea Party propaganda, he would be President. Now the payback begins. First by endorsing rational conservatives against Tea Party extremists. Then after the mid term election, I expect he will establish residency in Utah and challenge Mike Lee for the nomination to the Senate race in 2016.

    April 23, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. CrashMan

    One thing I will give GWB credit for is he knew how to leave the stage (for the most part). That seems to be the toughest concept for politicians to grasp - when it's time to just fade into the background. Romney needs to learn this, and just go away.

    April 23, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |

    Move along people there's nothing to see here.

    April 23, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. Rogue351

    Romney is not about what is best for the United States. With him it is all about what is best for Mitt. Greed and a power lust is all that drives this man. Anyone willing to put money before American interests should not be trusted. Romney has followed this behavior pattern from the beginning. It is silly to think he would change.

    April 23, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Anonymous


    Rudy NYC.... You could have stopped at " I don't see....." The rest was one sided hogwash.
    One sided? The hallmark of "The Ryan Budget" was to eliminate all capital gains taxes for all income levels, which have effective removed Romney from having to pay taxes in largest sources of income. BTW, the capital gains tax cuts are still in the Ryan Plan, which the House just recently passed and sent to the Senate.

    April 23, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. tribecagal

    A has been endorsing a wanna be. Keep up the good work!

    April 23, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    He WHAT?

    Romney was right about Russia; right about the economy and is a decent, experienced, able man with a spine.
    Just what about the economy was Mitt so right about? He predicted a gloom, doom, and more of the same.

    BTW, the country was right about Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is a salesman, not a statesman. Do you recall his world tour before the London Olympics? Made himself out to be a laughingstock, and most unpresidential. The country watched as Romney put out more misleading and inaccurate campaign ads than any POTUS candidate in history. We watched as he tried to pivot from pander stance to another by shaking his Etch A Sketch. We watched as he applauded Bain Capital's closing of the Sensata plant in Illinois to ship the jobs to China.

    We watched Romney demonize the least powerful in this country on videotape. We listened to his campaign assert that Jeep was moving to China, despite the fact that Jeep denounced Romney's claims and were in fact expanding the facility. We watched it all. Yup, the country was right about Mitt Ronmey.

    April 23, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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