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Life after Losing

Shimmy Blum

Finishing second is always disappointing — especially if the race was for president of theUnited States. Yet many presidential candidates have found personal and professional fulfillment long after the final votes were tallied, and had counted them out.

Monday, November 12, 2012

romney When Mitt Romney spent a July weekend in the heat of a tight presidential campaign vacationing with his wife, five sons, and 18 grandchildren at his luxurious vacation estate inWolfeboro,New Hampshire, critics ridiculed him for being ostentatious at a time when the average American is struggling.

Now, after devoting six years to a draining presidential bid, the man who reportedly shut off the television beaming election returns into his campaign headquarters to play with his grandchildren for several minutes finally has the opportunity to spend his time and money as he sees fit, without worrying about political ramifications.

Following his disappointing loss to President Obama in last week’s election, Romney joins a rare breed of American presidential campaign losers. Fit and energetic at age 65, and having amassed a fortune estimated at more than $200 million, Romney doesn’t need to work.

And unlike recent presidential losers such as Senators John Kerry and John McCain — who retained their positions even while running for president — Romney has no elective office to return to. And in case anyone is looking ahead to a comeback, his wife Ann Romney has made it clear that her husband will not undertake any future political campaign.

Transitional Figure

Romney’s potential ability to shape the nation’s future political scene will also likewise be limited. “Very ideological losing presidential nominees like [Republican] Barry Goldwater and [Democrat] George McGovern were able to inspire a generation of conservatives and liberals,” says Allan Lichtman, aUShistory professor atAmericanUniversity, “but Romney does not fit that mold.”

Just minutes after the television networks declared that Obama had been reelected, conservative political commentator Charles Krauthammer urged the GOP to look ahead to a “quite bright” future. He dismissed Romney as a “transitional” rather than transformational figure in the party and the conservative movement, based on the fact that Romney had no compelling political creed to offer.

Professor Lichtman expects Romney to follow the path of his fellow formerMassachusettsgovernor Mike Dukakis, who failed in his bid to unseat former President George H. W. Bush in 1988.


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