Mitt Romney to resurface at CPAC

Man who spent six years failing to get elected president to address major conservative convention

By Alex Pareene

Published February 20, 2013 9:02PM (EST)

          (AP/Charles Dharapak)
(AP/Charles Dharapak)

This year's Conservative Political Action Conference, the biggest and most important annual American conservative movement event, will feature a speech by Mr. Mitt Romney, aka "the Future of the Republican Party." This will be Romney's first public speaking appearance since he lost the 2012 presidential election despite leading in all unskewed polls. Maybe he will be fat and have a beard? Or maybe he will just look the same, as he has since 1971.

As Elspeth Reeve points out, Mitt Romney was said to have "little interest in helping the Republican Party rebuild and re-brand itself" as recently as last December. And speaking at CPAC is a great way of really emphasizing how uninterested Mitt Romney is in helping the Republican party rebrand itself. "I, a stiff rich twit, still represent this party," Romney will probably say. "Sorry."

“I look forward to saying thank you to the many friends and supporters who were instrumental in helping my campaign,” Romney said in a press release that probably offers a more accurate preview of the style and tone of his remarks. "Thank you to my friends and supporters," he will likely say. And, "golly."

If Romney has spent these last few months reflecting on his presumably extinguished presidential ambitions, he may have figured out that CPAC is precisely the sort of conservative institution that made his loss in November practically inevitable; in making himself the sort of candidate who wins CPAC straw polls, Romney abandoned most of what made him an appealing mainstream "blue state" Republican to begin with. But Romney is not terribly introspective or inclined to wade into intra-movement ideological battles. Plus, it's not really CPAC's fault. While Romney was incompetent at sounding like a true conservative, he was never reluctant to try. In other words, don't expect a big truth-to-power "Bulworth" moment here.

While CPAC will feature Romney, they have once again barred gay Republican groups from participating in the conference, so in case you were wondering, the conservative movement is not really interested in changing anything about itself, thank you. Also, Sarah Palin will speak. Yep. Sarah Palin.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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