Via Politico, he doesn’t name names but he’s clearly talking about Jindal and Scott Walker at least, both of whom have been outspoken in criticizing Romney’s post-election comments about Obama buying voters with taxpayer “gifts” and both of whom were at the Ohio rally that Senor mentions. Rubio and Kelly Ayotte were also there and have also had critical things to say, although their criticism was gentler. I was thinking about that gigantic Ohio rally this morning while looking at these sweet/sad pics of Romney at Disneyland. Three weeks ago, the guy was sincerely convinced that he was about to be elected president of the United States. He had a transition website in the works and everything. He watched his father’s presidential ambitions explode, suffered dozens of bitter defeats at the Senate and presidential primary levels, and endured being called a RINO and an establishment loser finally to end up that night as the star of the Republican show in front of 30,000 hopeful people. And now, three weeks later, he’s riding the teacups, with nothing to do except watch 2016’s presidential aspirants use him as a scapegoat for the party’s demographic challenges. Amazing.
When McCain lost, he went back to national business in the Senate. Dole resigned from the Senate during his presidential campaign but he’d already spent 27 years there and was in his 70s when he lost to Clinton. Before Dole, the last GOP nominee who lost an election without ever serving as president was Goldwater, and he too eventually returned to the Senate. Romney’s in uncharted waters in modern times as a guy who got tantalizingly close to the brass ring and not only didn’t get it but was immediately returned to national semi-obscurity afterward. How do you process that psychologically? It might not be as difficult for him if he were older or in worse health, as he’d at least have the relief of retirement ahead. But he doesn’t look like a man who’s eager for retirement; he’s the picture of health and vigor. Is being named CEO of some company enough to help him decelerate from being almost Leader of the Free World to waiting in line to ride Space Mountain? That’s why Senor’s so defensive on his behalf, I think. It’s not just that Jindal and Walker and other 2016 hopefuls are transparently opportunistic in clubbing him. It’s that the guy’s dealing with one of the worst cases of status whiplash in recent American history. If you’re an influential Republican, let him breathe for a minute before piling on, maybe.
Exit quotation from an unnamed Romney aide:
“Yet he went out and won the nomination,” wrote the aide in an email exchange. “Without putting in a dime of his own money. How did he do it? Well, more than anything there were the [primary season] debates. The debates proved that Romney was the most appealing Republican in the crowd. Appealing to VOTERS. Republican voters.”
“So I would be very hesitant,” the aide continued, “to believe that suddenly those who are criticizing Mitt Romney now are any more right than those who did for much of the last year and a half.”