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Mitt Romney then and now: 2008 vs. 2012 presidential run

Mitt Romney dropped out of the 2008 GOP primary race on this date in 2008, after winning 11 states. What did Romney say then?

By / February 7, 2012

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suspends his 2008 campaign during a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008.

(AP Photo/Steve Helber/File)

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Washington

On Feb. 7, 2008, Mitt Romney was in a very different position.

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He had competed hard with Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) and captured Nevada, just like he did this year, but came up short in Florida and New Hampshire, both states he won in 2012. He had poured gobs of his own money into the campaign en route to winning 11 states including his native Michigan and the state where he was governor, Massachusetts, but his prospects for capturing the nomination looked dim.

And so on the stage of the Conservative Political Action Conference, one of the nation’s premiere gatherings of top right-leaning talent, he ended his campaign for the presidency.

That speech, which you can read in its entirety here, gives a window into where the country - and the GOP - stood heading into the last presidential election. Here are five moments from Romney’s 2008 speech that are worthy of reappraisal today.

5. “I’m convinced that unless America changes course, we could become the France of the 21st century. Still a great nation, but not the leader of the world, not the superpower. And to me that’s unthinkable.”

The more some things change (as you will see below), the starker the relief in which the things that stay the same appear. Romney’s criticism that President Obama is attempting to turn American into a European-style social welfare state is still a key attack line on the stump and in his prepared speeches today.

4. “Eleven states have given me their nod, compared to [McCain’s] 13. Thank you to those 11. Of course, because size does matter, he’s doing quite a bit better with the number of delegates he’s got.”

That may be the only joke Mitt Romney has landed in four years.

3. Taking a stand on government spending?

Our economy is also burdened by the inexorable ramping up of government spending.

And let’s be careful: Let’s not just focus on the pork alone, even though it is indeed irritating and shameful. Look also at the entitlements. They make up 60 percent of federal spending today. And by the end of the next president’s second term they will total 70 percent.

 Any conservative plan for the future has to include entitlement reform that solves the problem, not just acknowledges it.

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