Romney on 2012 Regret: ‘Gosh, I Kick Myself’

WASHINGTON – The 2012 Republican presidential nominee said he often asks himself why he did not run again and expressed regret for not doing a “better job” communicating his conservative economic message to the public.

“I get asked on a regular basis, ‘Boy, why aren’t you running this year?’ I ask myself that now and then too. But I did that once,” Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Legal Reform Summit this week in D.C.

Romney said the general public might have gotten the wrong impression about his economic plans.

“People on the other side of the aisle have made that a centerpiece of their campaigns, which is the idea of income inequality and the lack of progress for middle-income families, and it’s something which, gosh, I kick myself as a Republican nominee for president for having not done a better job communicating this,” he said.

“When you speak, as you do in a primary, to people who are strong Republicans and conservatives, you begin to speak in shorthand because they've heard the kind of remarks that I'd make, they've heard it time and again, and they sort of understand what you mean. So when I'm talking about making America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, and when I want to make America a terrific place for small business and big business, when I want to see corporations thrive and grow in America, what my primary audience hears is something which they can connect with,” he added.

Romney said the general election audience heard the message differently than GOP primary voters.

“But the audience at large, they think the reason I'm talking about business is because all I care about is rich people and business leaders. Look, rich people and business people do well whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge. The real people who suffer when business is leaving or not successful are the people in the middle class,” he said. “If you want to get wages up in America for middle-income Americans, there's only one way I know how to do that in real terms — by having more businesses want to hire more people.”