Mitt Romney, former Republican U. S. presidential candidate, recently made headlines by speaking publicly for the first time since his November 2012 defeat.
Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church), spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, on March 15, 2013. His speech was considered to be an effort to “pass the torch of leadership” in the Republican Party “to a new generation of conservatives.”
In addition to heralding “a handful of Republican governors and his former running mate, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, as the next generation of GOP leadership,” he pledged his support to the GOP and acknowledged supporters for his bid for the White House.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Nevada Brian Sandoval were among those that Romney “singled out” as leaders of the Republican Party.
He counseled party activists to “learn from his campaign’s missteps.” He said, “‘It is up to us to make sure that we learn from my mistakes, and from our mistakes, so that we can win the victories . . . this nation depend upon.’”
He was also characterized as “out of touch” with the challenges of the average American during his campaign; an image he and his supporters attempted to show as inaccurate.
As a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ, he also received media attention—and often-undue criticism—for his Mormon religious beliefs. On a positive note, New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Strolberg wrote that Romney “exposed Americans to some of the virtues of his faith—its emphasis on wholesome living, industriousness and, above all, family.”1
In his remarks at CPAC, Romney also said that it is “‘fashionable in some circles to be pessimistic about America, about conservative solutions, about the Republican Party.’” He said that he “‘utterly rejects’” that pessimism. “‘We may not have carried the day last November 7, but we haven’t lost the country we love, and we haven’t lost our way.”
Romney addressed the looming question the GOP must answer: Should the party “moderate in some respects, or continue to hew to its conservative ideology”?
A “‘conservative vision can attract a majority of Americans and form a governing coalition of renewal and reform,’” Romney argued.
Romney has returned to the private sector, having recently joined the executive committee of one of his sons’ investment companies, but he promised his continued support of the GOP.
“‘I am sorry that I will not be your president—but I will be your co-worker and I will stand shoulder to shoulder alongside you,’ he said. ‘In the end, we will win just as we have won before, and for the same reason: because our cause is just and it is right.’”
This article was written by Paula Hicken, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Paula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.