Mitt Romney may have lost the presidential election, but today he won the hearts of just about everyone at CPAC. In a speech that felt like classic Mitt, he thanked attendees for their work on his campaigns and promised to work alongside the people he wouldn’t have the privilege to lead.
After South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s rousing introduction, attendees leapt to their feet for a long, boisterous round of applause. “You’ve touched my heart again,” said Romney, placing his hand on his heart. “Thank you so much. What a sight you are.”
“It’s up to us to make sure we learn from our mistakes, from my mistakes,” he said, and though he didn’t list specific missteps, he did provide a piece of advice: Listen to the Republican governors in blue and purple states, mentioning Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell. Both men are conspicuously absent from this weekend’s conference, and Romney’s name-checking could be seen as a gentle dig at the event’s organizers.
Another piece of advice from the former Massachusetts governor: Do whatever possible to keep America’s status as the strongest country in the world. Though he didn’t use the term, his defense of American exceptionalism drew more cheers from attendees.
“I’m sorry I won’t be your president,” he concluded, “but I will be your co-worker and I’ll work shoulder to shoulder alongside you.”
If the audience’s instant standing ovation indicated anything, Mitt Romney may have lost an election, but he remains, as ever, a CPAC favorite.