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Romney returns to CPAC, but don't call it a comeback


Mitt Romney has one term as governor, two presidential campaigns, three elite university degrees, decades of church leadership and 25 years in the private sector under his belt -- but at age 66, sources close to him say he’s trying to figure out what to do with his life.

But does a trip to the Washington, D.C. area to address the conservative CPAC conference on Friday mean that Romney is interested in waging a political comeback? 

“No, no. No,” said his son, Tagg emphatically. “He doesn’t want to be back… He’s done.”

Former campaign spokesman Ryan Williams says that while Romney is not seeking to be back in the public eye by addressing the crowd, there was a specific reason for choosing to make his first public speech since losing the election in front of this particular group.  “The CPAC speech is a chance for him to thank the activists who helped him during his presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.” 

“He took the appropriate amount of time off, and is returning now because of the personal significance this event has for him,” Williams added.

As First Read has pointed out, Romney finished either first or second in every CPAC straw poll since 2007. What’s more, he ended his 2008 presidential bid at the conservative conference. And Williams says he can still remember the disappointment in the air when Romney’s speech concluded in ‘08. 

But when he speaks on Friday, he will no longer do so as a current or potential presidential candidate. “He understands that there’s a new generation of Republican leaders now emerging to guide the party,” Williams said.  “He’s not a politician who craves the spotlight.”

Romney’s quiet exit from public life is reminiscent of another family member’s -- his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney.  Both men went into politics in their mid-50s after lucrative careers in the private sector.  George Romney lost a bid for president in 1968 and served briefly in the Nixon administration and then went on to spend decades in charity work. 

"My dad wants to be involved in giving back as well, and he's still figuring out the best way to do that,” Tagg Romney said.  Romney has said he is planning on dedicating time to a foundation working with children, but he has also signed on as chairman of the executive committee of Solamere, Tagg’s investment firm based in Boston. Romney will serve in that role for one week a month, and spend the rest of his time continuing to float between Utah and California, where his other sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren live.