WASHINGTON – No one wanted to be president less than Mitt Romney, his son said in an interview out Sunday that raises new questions about the candidacy of the losing Republican nominee.
In an interview with The Boston Globe examining what went wrong with the Romney campaign, his oldest son, Tagg, explains that his father had been a reluctant candidate from the start.
After failing to win the 2008 Republican nomination, Romney told his family he would not run again and had to be persuaded to enter the 2012 White House race by his wife, Ann, and son, Tagg.
“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire . . . to run,” Tagg Romney said. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside.”
Mitt Romney “is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them. He loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention,” his son said.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and multimillionaire businessman, has been widely criticized for blaming his loss in the Nov. 6 election on President Barack Obama’s “gifts” to Latinos, women and the poor.
“What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,” Romney said during a call with campaign donors in mid-November that represented his first public reaction to his election loss.
The Globe story sought to look beyond that narrative and examine what really went wrong.
It focused on the fact that Romney was unhappy that one of his most trusted advisers, Mike Murphy — the architect of his successful 2002 run for governor of Massachusetts — did not join the campaign.
Instead, the campaign settled on Stuart Stevens, who had worked on Romney’s 2008 presidential bid.
The Globe story also highlights the decision to downplay Romney’s biography in favor of going after Obama and the flagging U.S. economy.
Campaign strategists feared that highlighting Romney’s biography would open the Mormon candidate up more to personal attacks that he was wealthy, out of touch and belonged to a minority faith.