Mitt Romney to speak at CPAC. Why?

Mitt Romney says he'll speak next month at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) to say thank you. But maybe he'll also outline his plans for staying involved in politics.

Charles Dharapak/AP/File
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivers his concession speech at his election night rally in Boston, last November. The American Conservative Union announced Thursday that the former Republican presidential candidate will speak at next month's Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C.

Mitt Romney is reemerging, sort of. The American Conservative Union announced Thursday that the former Republican presidential candidate will speak at next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C. This will mark Mr. Romney’s first real public appearance since the election, and the former Massachusetts governor himself says it’s a simple chance to close the loop and pay his respects.

“I look forward to saying thank you to the many friends and supporters who were instrumental in helping my campaign,” said Romney in ACU’s press statement.

Why is he really doing this? One possibility is that he’ll announce what he’s going to do next. Lots of political types figure that’s the real point of the address, at least for the Romney camp. All reports are that he has been bored puttering around his new home in La Jolla, Calif. – no car elevator jokes, please – and CPAC would be a decent forum for him to outline how he’s going to keep a hand in politics. Or if not a full hand, at least a finger, OK? He’s said in the past that he wasn’t going to completely ride off into a lucrative private-sector sunset.

The rumor du jour is that he’s going to become a Fox News contributor. Mediaite has that story, based on an exchange between Fox News anchor Chris Wallace and "Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade. On the latter’s radio show, Mr. Wallace said he knows what’s up next for the Mittster. Mr. Kilmeade then guessed “Fox News contributor,” causing Wallace to get flustered and clam up.

“After a short pause and exactly one hem and one haw, Wallace [replied], ‘We’re not playing 20 questions here my friend!,” Mediate’s Tommy Christopher reports.

Romney could also announce some sort of foundation/fundraising group that will keep a national office in D.C. and give him a platform from which to plot a comeback. Not for himself, necessarily. (Can somebody fan Mr. Rove? He looks faint.) But the Romney name could use a little political refurbishment if his son Tagg wants to run for office. Remember, Tagg Romney was briefly mentioned as a possible GOP entry in the upcoming Senate special election in Massachusetts. Tagg didn’t shut the door on a political career when he said “no,” and at least one other Romney son, Josh, has expressed an interest in entering politics in Utah.

Finally, Romney could just be tired of being a punching bag. CPAC has always been a good forum for him – he won its presidential straw poll numerous times – but at the moment his name gives lots of Republicans the vapors. He lost a race they thought he should win. Lots of party members blame him personally, for essentially allowing the Obama campaign to paint him as a rich plutocrat who wanted all the nation’s illegal immigrants to self-deport.

Have you noticed that potential 2016 GOP candidates have already begun emphasizing their working-class cred? It’s no accident that Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida talks a lot about the working-class neighborhood where he grew up.

So Mitt might just get up and say he was sorry, the “47 percent” tape was a disaster, but he didn’t create the party’s problems with Hispanics, and the economy recovered just enough so that US voters decided they’d stick with the president they had and see what happened. Deal with it, folks. You can’t run a Ronald Reagan hologram in 2016.

At the Hot Air! blog, conservative commentator Allahpundit says the speech will be awkward, but adds that he believes nobody disagrees that the GOP has problems that are bigger than Romney.

“That’s not to excuse his screw-ups during the campaign, just to say that I think that awareness will inform the audience’s reception of him at CPAC,” he writes.

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