Election 2020

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

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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.”

Without mentioning Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by name, Romney lamented efforts to raise taxes on businesses that decide to move out of the U.S. or make such a move illegal.

“Guys, if they’re leaving, don’t try to keep them from leaving, instead figure out how to make them want to stay — make it more attractive to be here in this country and our tax environment, our regulatory environment, our legal environment, all these things are making it harder for them to want to stay,” he said.

Romney, who said he has watched the presidential debates, expressed disappointment that lowering the national debt and reforming entitlement programs are not being discussed enough in the presidential campaign.

“I don’t think either candidate has said how they will reform entitlements one way or the other,” he said.

Romney told the audience that the reason he is a conservative is not because of the 1 percent or the corporate bosses but for “all the people in this country and recognizing that if business is thriving and growing, it will create more jobs, raise wages of our people, allow us to care for our seniors, get a better education for our kids, and allow us to have the kind of military that can defend American interests around the world,” he said.