Whether you liked him or not, agreed with him or not, wished him well in the presidential contest or not, it was a sad moment to watch former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney walk off the national political stage Tuesday night, probably for the last time.
He and his campaign were so confident they’d win. Battleground Ohio would come through, they believed, probably Paul Ryan’s home state Wisconsin would, too, and late gains in Michigan and Pennsylvania would push them out of Obama blueness and into Romney red.
But he lost them all. Even the most pessimistic Republicans thought, before Election Day, that if Romney lost the Electoral College, at least he’d take the popular vote. But the late night count shows that was lost as well. He lost his home state, Massachusetts, by over 20 points. He was defeated in his summer-home state of New Hampshire, and was even whipped in the town where he sleeps, Belmont, Mass.
That’s how thorough the loss was, and that has to be sad for a man who had been running for the presidency for five years, 11 months and three days, since Jan. 3, 2007, when he first announced his candidacy in the 2008 campaign.
Some might argue he’s been running for the White House since his first attempt at public office, his failed 1994 Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy.
It has to be sad to have losing campaigns as a family pattern, after all his father George Romney lost his White House bid in 1968 to Richard Nixon. And his mother Lenore lost her U.S. Senate race in 1970.
Following Lenore’s withdrawal speech back then, her opponent called it “the most graceful and really moving concession speech I’ve ever heard.” As a young man, Mitt Romney was very active in his mother’s campaign, so it’s not difficult to imagine his late mother was on his mind last night. And that is sad, too.
Mitt Romney’s speech Tuesday night was instantly branded by pundits as “gracious.”
The on-stage tableau certainly provided a bittersweet moment as Romney was surrounded by his five sons, their wives, many of his 18 grandchildren and, of course, his wife Ann.
And I wondered if for a fleeting moment I saw relief in Romney’s eyes.
It came when Romney thanked his family for their help in his campaign, specifically when he thanked the wives of his sons for carrying on at home during their absences while the men were on the campaign trail.
I imagined that was THE MOMENT when Romney realized that his political life was over, and that he, too, would soon be home.