Something old has come roaring back this week, as the media suddenly remembers that George W. Bush and Mitt Romney were people we used to care about. Bush and Romney exemplify two very different responses to not being president — and Romney's is much less flattering.
No one is suggesting that every failed presidential candidate should be resilient and magnanimous after the fact. As with any disappointment, it's tricky. But it's been done before with grace and cleverness, providing some lesson for those who find themselves in that unenviable position. We identified five ways in which recent presidential losers have responded. We'll start with Romney's, which is perhaps the worst.
The Sad Sack
Romney popped back into sight last week when President Obama — in an obviously trolly move — decided to head to Boston to compare the slow start of Obamacare to Romney's signature health care legislation. Romney didn't appreciate it. But the Boston Globe used the opportunity to do a fuller check-in with the two-time candidate.
At first, Romney went into analytical mode, meeting with former campaign aides to put together an internal review of why he lost. They put less blame on personal missteps, such as Romney’s comment that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government, and more on missed strategic opportunities …
Romney has spent much of the past year focusing on his extended family, which has grown this year by four grandchildren. In June, he drove to a car dealership in New Hampshire and traded in his 2005 red Mustang convertible for a 15-passenger Ford Econoline van.
You can imagine the heavy sighs that accompany these paragraphs. The Globe is wrong on one point: at first, Romney appeared in an informal series of Instagram photos showing him moping around gas stations and grocery stores. Sad. Romney selling a sports car for a van to drive his grandkids around? Sadder. Somewhat buried in the Globe story is that Romney is "hoping to influence the direction of the party by creating what he called a 'small' political action committee." The idea that by investing a bit of money he can still help shape a party that had already essentially moved to the right out of his grasp when he ran last year? Saddest of all.