YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Back in the spotlight, Romney criticizes Obama (a.k.a. 'Nero')

March 03, 2013|By Maeve Reston
  • Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace.
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on "Fox News… (Fox News Channel )

For Mitt Romney, there will be no next chapter in politics — at least no third run for the presidency. But in his first post-campaign interview, the former Massachusetts governor did not shy away Sunday from his criticism of President Obama and said he hoped to help the Republican Party regain its footing — from a distance.

“I recognize that as the guy who lost the election, I'm not in a position to tell everybody else how to win,” Romney told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace. “They're not going to listen and I don't have the credibility to do that anyway.  But I still care.  And I still believe that there are principles that we need to stand for.”

Criticizing the stalemate on the sequester — $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that are slated to go into effect because Democrats and Republicans could not reach an agreement — the former GOP nominee accused the president of “campaigning” by flying around the country “berating Republicans” instead of pulling aside Democrats and a few Republicans to cut a deal.

“It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done,” Romney told Wallace. “The president is the leader of the nation. The president brings people together, does the deals, does the trades, knocks the heads together; the president leads. And I don't see that kind of leadership happening right now.”

Romney said the nation was in the midst of “a golden moment” to fix its fiscal problems but was watching it “slip away with politics.” Obama, he charged, has been more interested in winning a political victory than resolving the issue: “This is America we’re talking about at a critical time,” he said, “You know, Nero is fiddling.”

Since his loss in November, Romney has largely faded from public view—retreating to his oceanfront home in La Jolla and enjoying outings with his grandchildren at the beach, Disneyland and local parks. Sources close to the former governor say he is still weighing his next steps but has turned his energy toward the charitable foundation that he founded with his wife, Ann. They have renamed it the Romney Foundation for Children to focus on the plight of poor children around the world.

When on the East Coast, Romney has been working out of the Boston offices of Solamere, the venture capital firm founded by his son Tagg and his former campaign finance director Spencer Zwick. He has told friends that he intends to help out at Solamere, as well at the businesses of three of his other sons, who work in real estate development. 

Reflecting on the 2012 campaign, Romney told Wallace that he and his team had not done an effective job reaching out to minority voters, which he called “a real mistake.” He did not apologize for his assertion to donors last fall that Obama had won the election by giving “gifts” to key groups, including African Americans, Latinos and young people.

The remarks drew criticism from many of Romney’s fellow Republicans, in part because they were reminiscent of his controversial comment at a private Florida fundraiser that 47% of Americans were looking for handouts and weren’t likely to vote for him.

“The president had the power of incumbency.  Obamacare was very attractive, particularly to those without health insurance.  And they came out in large numbers to vote,” Romney told Wallace when asked about the “gifts” comment.

When Wallace noted that the former Massachusetts governor had been “roasted” by members of his party over the remarks, and asked if that hurt, Romney said he wasn’t “going to second-guess what other people have to say.”

“I don’t look back. I look forward,” he said. 

Putting an end to a swirl of speculation earlier this year, Ann Romney said she was never formally approached by the Republican Party about running for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry. “Not a chance,” she told Wallace when asked if she’d considered running. “I’m enjoying life.”

She did confirm, however, that she considered taking a spot on “Dancing With the Stars” and “would've loved to have done it.”

But, she said, “I am turning 64, and I started thinking about it — I'm not really as flexible as I should be.”

The selection of Dorothy Hamill as a contestant, she said, confirmed that she had made the right decision. “I thought, oh my gosh, am I glad I didn't do that! I wouldn't want to compete against Dorothy!”

Twitter: @maevereston

Los Angeles Times Articles