Former Republican presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney and his wife Ann sat down with Chris Wallace for their first post-election interview this weekend and candidly reflected on their unsuccessful White House bid. Not surprisingly, the couple appeared very much at peace with the result. They’ve turned to family to fill the void in their now open schedules and are charting a path for staying involved in the political process – while openly accepting the diminished voice the “Romneys” now have in the Republican Party.
As I said Friday, I was very much looking forward to this interview. The first glimpse of a defeated candidate after an election is typically a pretty good indication of where and how said candidate plans to move in the coming months. While the “loser” in presidential elections is often cast aside as the “next in line” steps forward; a candidate with no ambitions for future elections has a unique opportunity to carve a rather significant role for himself if he plays his cards right. And given the calculated and measured approach to politics Romney has taken over the years, a more unchained and unscripted version of himself may open doors the former version could have never even dreamed of walking through.
Watching the portion of the interview that featured both Romneys fielding questions, I couldn’t help but notice that Mitt Romney seems to be taking the loss far better than Ann. While the governor was careful not to take shots at the media, the president, or even those who voted for the president; Ann looked a bit like a woman still somewhat jaded by the process. And who can blame her? She knows Mitt Romney better than any other human being on this planet; and she feels he was painted in an unfavorable and inaccurate light by the president, his campaign, and a decidedly complicit media. She’s a little pissed.
And when the conversation moved to current events in Washington, the source of her continued frustrations began to come into view. She genuinely believes that if her husband would have won the election, we’d already be on a path to a better place. We wouldn’t be dealing with another manufactured crisis (sequestration) with our eyes already set on our next one (continuing resolution extension); and the trajectory of the next four years wouldn’t look so much like the previous four that brought us to our current stagnant state.
For what it’s worth, I share her frustrations. The only thing the November presidential election told me was that a majority of Americans are A) Blind to how terrible things really are; B) Blinded by the image of greatness the media has crafted for Barack Obama; or C) really really stupid, ignorant, pig-headed, moronic, narrow-minded, short-sighted, fill-in-the-blank. In schoolyard talk, things really suck and we just doubled down on four more years of suckiness.
All that aside, it’s good to see Romney back in the public eye. If nothing else, he and Ann represent the quintessential American family. I think it’s wonderful to see how close he and his kids are and how much of a role they have in the lives of their grandchildren. Things being as they are, it’s nice to see a hearty dose of that on television from time-to-time. He may have been cast as an “out of touch rich guy” by the media, but I do believe it is rather telling that the only accounts of Romney’s whereabouts since November that have emerged have been those of him spending time with family.
As the interview reveals, I’m certain Governor Romney has more than his fair share of regrets. He lost an election most thought was the Republican Party’s for the taking. But as I’ve said repeatedly since the election, his defeat was as much about the Republican Party as it was about Mitt Romney. Many have been quick to blame the candidate while casually forgetting that it was the Party that chose that candidate; and it was our primary that set the table for Obama to hammer him in the general election. Governor Romney may very well have been the wrong candidate for this election; but I truly believe that even with his shortcomings, he would have emerged victorious if our junior varsity crew of misfit primary candidates hadn’t severely weakened him before the general election.
“We weren’t effective in my message primarily to minority voters, to Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, other minorities,” Romney said. “That was a real mistake.”
Romney said he is finished will elected office, but will continue to try to help the Republican Party, despite having a less powerful voice.
“I lost and so I’m not going to be telling the Republican Party, ‘Come listen to me, the guy who lost,’ ” Romney said. “I’m not going to disappear. … I care about America. I care about the people that can’t find jobs. I care about the fact that we’re racking up larger deficits and putting the peril of the future generation very much in play.”