Mitt Romney has been a governor, the head of an investment capital firm and the man who ran the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. More recently he applied for an even bigger job but finished out of the money in the Republican presidential primaries of 2008.
Romney seems set on another run in 2012, the latest sign being the release of his new book. No Apology: The Case for American Greatness comes with a big promotional tour starting Tuesday.
Romney's presidential run came to an end in February 2008 before members of the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, in Washington. Romney had bounced back a bit after crucial early losses in Iowa and New Hampshire the month before. But he could see he was done.
"I entered this race because I love America," Romney told the crowd then. "Because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country."
It was a difficult day for a man accustomed to success, but Romney wasn't ready to regard the setback as permanent. He spent two years helping raise money for Republican candidates across the country. He's making friends and collecting favors, and last month he was back at CPAC — this time having more fun.
Romney told the crowd he was just back from the Olympics: "You probably didn't hear the news this morning — late-breaking — that the gold medal that was won by Lindsey Vonn has been stripped. It was determined that President Obama has been going downhill faster than she has."
The joke was followed by a broad critique of the administration: "When he assumed the presidency, his energy should have been focused on fixing the economy, creating jobs, succeeding in our fight against radical violent jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq and keeping us safe," Romney asserted.
"Instead, he applied his time and political capital to his ill-conceived takeover of health care, and to building his personal popularity in foreign countries. He failed to focus, and so he failed."
Romney's book title echoes a common critique of the president by Republicans — that Obama has been too willing to apologize around the world for American actions.
Elsewhere in the book Romney lays out a vision for U.S. economic and foreign policy. It argues that the current path is one toward weakness and decline.
As for the book tour, Romney will be all over network and cable TV Tuesday — ending with a stop at the Late Show with David Letterman. So far the travel schedule includes 42 stops in 19 states.
"You look where he's going on this book tour and he has surrounded himself with the same guys he had in 2008," says Erick Erickson, who publishes the popular Republican blog RedState.com. "He's definitely in for president."
Romney's '08 campaign had trouble with conservatives, particularly evangelicals who had doubts about his Mormonism and about his switch from pro-abortion-rights Massachusetts governor to anti-abortion presidential candidate.
Some analysts wondered why he didn't simply run on his resume as a highly successful businessman and executive. With polls showing the struggling economy and weak jobs picture to be the dominant issue for Americans, Erickson says Romney has an opportunity while on this book tour.
"He needs to set himself up as the fixer," Erickson adds. "As the guy who knows what's wrong with the economy and can fix it."
But a big book tour also risks comparison to others on the same well-trodden path — including one whose book came out in November: Sarah Palin.
Kevin Madden, a GOP strategist who worked for Romney in '08, is quick to head off comparisons to Palin's massive crowds. "This is not about building crowds, instead it's about going out and meeting people sharing his ideas and his vision for the country with as many people as possible. Rather than being an event, it's a process of engaging on many of these ideas and issues."
The Republican Party is searching for a new standard-bearer, as polls show it is on track to make big gains in this year's midterm elections.
Mitt Romney wants to make sure his name is more than just part of that discussion.
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