BOSTON: Mitt Romney is stepping back onto the national stage — if only briefly. The former Republican presidential candidate criticised President Barack Obama’s leadership in an interview aired Friday night on Fox News, his first public comments after nearly four months in seclusion at his home in Southern California. He was scheduled to deliver his first post election speech later in the month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Romney said that Obama has been “flying around the country and berating Republicans and blaming and pointing” instead of preventing Washington’s latest budget crisis. His re-emergence may be short-lived.
Former aides describe this month’s activity as a thank-you tour of sorts designed to close out a high-profile political career that spanned a decade. And the Republican Party isn’t exactly clamouring for his return.
A handful of Republican governors who aggressively supported Romney’s presidential bid last fall offered lukewarm responses in recent days to the question of Romney’s future role in the GOP. And conservative leaders suggest they’re ready for a new era in Republican politics that doesn’t include the former Massachusetts governor.
“He has every right to be involved. And certainly he gave a lot for the cause,” said Tim Phillips, president of the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity. “But most of the movement is wanting to look forward. They want to look forward to the next generation of leaders.”
Without a public office or a prominent position in the private sector, Romney lacks a ready platform.
The last two losing presidential candidates, Republican John McCain in 2008 and Democrat John Kerry in 2004, eased their way back into national politics through the Senate seats they still held. After his loss, former Vice President Al Gore appeared in a documentary film about climate change and became an outspoken advocate for environmental protections.
But almost immediately after his defeat last November, Romney retreated to the privacy of his Southern California home. He surfaced in the national media in recent months only in photographs such as those showing him pumping gas, enjoying a day out with his family at Disneyland and shopping at Costco.