As part of former 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent increase in public appearances, he sat down for a short interview that lasted 11 minutes and recorded from a studio in Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 with NBC News' "Meet the Press," where he discussed with host David Gregory the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton's prospects, recent attacks on Bill Clinton's actions as President, the Sochi Olympics, gay marriage, and Romney's much speculated political future.
In the past month the world and media has seen far more of Romney, with his recent public appearances and interviews in support of the Netflix documentary "Mitt." The documentary shows Romney's personal side during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaign, and has made him appear more human and likeable in the public and press's eyes, something the press complained was lacking from his public persona during those campaigns.
In the past month, Romney appeared at the January Sundance Film Festival premiere of "Mitt," "slow jammed the news" with Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on Friday, Jan. 24, took a "selfie" with actor Zach Braff on the flight home to Sal Lake City from the Fallon appearance, was at the Super Bowl, and on Feb. 5 spoke with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
The former GOP Presidential candidate's most recent media blitz however, seems to either focus on the "Mitt" documentary or highlight and discuss the Sochi Olympics, which dominated his CNN interview, and a recent USA Today op-ed, but also included criticism of the troubled Obamacare, health insurance rollout and the continuing NSA surveillance revelations.
Those recent appearances have obviously prompted media speculation that Romney is interested in a third presidential run. The former Republican candidate recently topped a 2016 Purple Strategies poll in New Hampshire on Jan 30, winning with 25 percent to "Rand Paul's 18, Chris Christie's 17, and Jeb Bush's 13" percent.
Romney however, insists he absolutely will not run again and that 2012 was his last campaign, clarifying to Blitzer; "I appreciate the compliment; it's better than a kick in the teeth. At the same time I'm absolutely convinced that there are other people who would have a better chance of becoming the nominee and becoming the next president of the United States. I've had my turn, I gave it two good shots, didn't win and now it's time for someone else to do it. I'm not running for president. I made that clear the morning after the last loss."
Still with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie embroiled in bridge-gate and his pristine record flawed or least very questionable and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush not taking the bait, Romney is seeming more and more attractive to the Republican Party for 2016 and their best bet against an inevitable Hillary Clinton Democratic candidacy.
On "Meet the Press" Romney addressed recent attacks on Hillary Clinton through the Bill Clinton's actions while President. Conservative Senator Rand Paul, KY has been utilizing that method focusing especially what Paul calls Bill Clinton's "predatory nature" and the 16-year old scandal with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky that led to Clinton's impeachment.
Speaking recently on C-SPAN's Newsmakers Paul argued; "They can't have it both ways. The Democrats can't say we're the greatest defenders of women's rights in the workplace and we will defend you against some kind of abusive boss that uses their position of authority to take advantage of a young women when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country, is Bill Clinton who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment…. Yeah, I mean, a predator, a sexual predator, basically. Repetitive-you know there's dozens or at least a half a dozen public women have come forward." Paul is advocating that the Democratic Party return any funds Clinton collects on their behalf, and distance themselves from the former President. Paul himself is considering Presidential run in 2016.
Romney does not believe Bill Clinton should be a factor and Hillary's record is what should be focused on, if she runs. Considering the conservative obsession with her decisions as Secretary of State regarding the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi, Libya terror attack, the Republicans have more than enough fodder for political attacks that are more relevant to a Hillary Clinton Presidency.
Romney explained; "I don't think Bill Clinton is as relevant as Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president. In her case, I think people will look at her record as the secretary of state and say, during that period of time, did our relations with nations around the world elevate America and elevate our interests, or were they receding? I think her record is what she will be judged upon, not the record of her husband.
That remark does not mean Romney condones Clinton's past behavior and he made sure to voice his condemnation for Bill Clinton's grossly inappropriate behavior while President, which took away from his good economic record. Romney commented; "The times when (Bill) was president were by and large positive economic times for the country. On the other hand, he embarrassed the nation. He breached his responsibility, I think, as an adult and as a leader in his relationship. And I think that's very unfortunate, but I don't think that's Hillary Clinton's to explain. She has her own record, her own vision for where she would take the country."
Hillary Clinton could face her own problems with her husband's scandal since just last week on Monday, Feb. 10 the conservative Washington Free Beacon reported their discovery of unknown comments from Hillary about the scandal that were buried deep in the former First Lady's friend Diane Blair, a political science professor's personal papers at the University of Arkansas. The remarks deep in her diaries most importantly noted Hillary Clinton referring to Monica Lewinsky as a "narcissistic loony toon" and her reasons for forgiving Clinton that would make any feminist cringe.
When asked about his own plans for the 2016 Presidential campaign, Romney reiterated; "I’m not running for president. We’ve got some very good people who are considering the race. And I’m looking forward to supporting someone who I think will have the best shot of defeating whoever it is the Democrats put up.... I think by and large people who lose a presidential race, well, they step aside. In my case, I have the blessing of having a big family."
His lack of Presidential ambitions however, did not stop Romney from giving some campaign style criticism to the Barack Obama's administration's troubling economic policies. Romney specficially spoke of the economic stimulus's fifth anniversay, saying; "But I do also hope to continue to have a-- an impact on the country and our way forward. I’m very concerned about America for a lot of reasons... I think on Monday, it’s the-- the five-year anniversary of the president signing a stimulus bill that was supposed to get unemployment below five percent. And here we are with millions of people who’ve dropped out of the employment system. We’re finding ourselves less competitive globally. Our deficits continue to be a real burden for the American people. I mean, these are things that I care about. And just because I lost the presidential race doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep fighting for the American people and for a future that’s more prosperous than what we’ve seen over these last five years."
Romney, who was the President and CEO of the "Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics" has been outspoken in the last two weeks about the Winter Olympics Games in Sochi. Romney has also been critical of the $50 billion price tag associated with these games, so much so he took to USA Today penning an op-ed entitled "Limit Olympic excess." He is advocating the International Olympic Committee issuing a price cap for the games of around $3 billion, because host countries are pushing themselves towards economic collapse with their unnecessary extravagances.
Romney reiterated some of his comments on "Meet the Press" stating that "All that extra money could be used to do some very important things in terms of fighting poverty and fighting disease around the world." He does not think that amount of funds should be used "to show off a country or, I think more cynically, to show off the politicians in a country."
Still Romney praised Russia's security efforts in light of the terror threats; "At the same time, I think Russia has shown not only through the application of their security forces, but also through their intelligence work that they have the capacity to keep the games reasonably safe. There's no such thing as a 100 percent guarantee, but I think at this stage people feel pretty comfortable that the games will be safe."
The former Governor of Massachusetts also talked of Boston's potential bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, expressing; "It's a great experience. Boston would love it if the games came home." Romney has been advising for that Olympic bid.
Romney was asked again his opinion on the legalization of gay marriage in the states and federal level considering it all started in Massachusetts while he was governor despite his opposition. Now in his current home state of Utah, the government fiercely opposes a Judge's recent decision to legalize gay marriage and the subsequent Supreme Court stay on the issue, with the public, a Mormon majority is divided on the issue, but a slight majority in opposition.
Romney's opinions about gay marriage remains the same as throughout his campaigns, but his language much softer as to appear less offensive. Romney expressed; "I think marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. And I think the ideal setting for raising a child is in a setting where there's a father and mother. Now there are many other different settings that children are raised in, and people have the right to live their life as they want to. But I think marriage should be defined in the way it's been defined for several thousand years. And if gay couples want to live together, that's fine as well, that's their right." Romney also admitted "it's going to take a long, long time" to determine the repercussions.
Romney concluded about the issue; "I think you stand for various principles. You communicate those to the American people, and they either support those or not. Sometimes, if something is lost, well, you move on to the next issue. You wish you'd have won that one, but you move on." A loaded statement that could also apply on a larger scale to Romney's past campaigns and political career.
Regardless of Romney insisting he would not run in 2016, he seems too eager and supportive of a Clinton Democratic Presidential candidacy, one where there are numerous weaknesses and points of attacks for a Republican candidate to take advantage on. At the minimum Romney definitely sounds as if he is putting his toe in the water and seeing how the response would be to a potential third run. The 2016 Presidential game is still early, only in the next months will the fates of any potential candidates become clearer.
- "Romney Bares All on Olympics, Gay Rights and 2016,"Meet the Press Transcript: Feb. 16, 2014, David Gregory, Meet the Press, Feb. 16, 2014