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?
On Feb. 7, 2008, Mitt Romney was in a very different position.Skip to next paragraph
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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.
Romney was spot-on in his assessment of entitlement spending and its role as a serious political issue in the future. However, 2008 Romney perhaps wouldn’t be so impressed with 2012 Romney’s economic plan, which the Wall Street Journal famously called “timid.” They were equally unsparing about his plans for entitlement reform:
On spending, Mr. Romney joins the GOP’s “cut, cap and balance” parade, setting a cap on spending over time at 20% of GDP. What Mr. Romney doesn’t do is provide even a general map for how to get there, beyond cutting spending on nonsecurity domestic programs by 5% upon taking office.
He praises Paul Ryan for making “important strides” on Medicare but says his plan “will differ,” without offering details. He also says there are a “number of options” to reform Social Security without endorsing any of them. We are told those specifics will come later. It’s hardly unusual for candidates to avoid committing to difficult proposals, but it won’t help Mr. Romney contrast his leadership with Mr. Obama’s.
2. To go the distance?
“Even though we face an uphill fight, I know that many in this room are fully behind my campaign.”
AUDIENCE: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!
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