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Political Notebook

Romney honored at DC lunch by supporters

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney no longer has a Secret Service detail trailing his every step. But the former Republican presidential candidate can still commandeer a Marriott Hotel.

Romney came to Washington on Friday, four days after President Obama was sworn into a second term that Romney had hoped to prevent. He was at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington for a luncheon that was put together by Catherine Reynolds, a Virginia philanthropist, and Bill Marriott Jr., chairman of the hotel chain. Romney is a member of the company’s board.

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The luncheon, meant to honor Romney and his wife, Ann, took place just blocks away from the White House, where Obama was continuing to assemble his staff for the next term. Bleachers constructed for the inauguration parade were still set up outside, and the official inauguration store — selling Obama hats, shirts, and mugs — was next door.

But Romney, who has remained out of the public eye, did not permit media of coverage of his trip. His staff said he was not available for an interview. The hotel, where many events and conferences are held, cordoned off the entrance and stationed guards at the door to block anyone from entering the lobby.

While the group of Romney supporters dined on either salmon or filet mignon, Romney told them that he had kept a low profile since the campaign but planned to be politically active in helping to get Republican candidates elected in 2013, 2014, and 2016, according to a source who attended the lunch and requested anonymity because the function was supposed to be private. Romney wasn’t specific about which candidates he would help and in what way, the source said, and it remains to be seen how active other Republicans want Romney to be following a losing campaign that many have criticized.

Still, those who attended the luncheon included some of the top Republican power brokers. Among them were Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Senator John S. McCain of Arizona, and former Senate majority leader Trent Lott.

Spotted from the sidewalk arriving for the lunch were people like Ed Gillespie, a senior campaign adviser, and Scott Romney, the candidate’s older brother. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the former vice presidential nominee, arrived just before noon.

On Saturday night, Romney is planning to attend the Alfalfa Club Dinner, an exclusive event attended by Washington power brokers.

Romney did not appear at the inauguration. Romney aides and the White House have declined to say whether he in any way communicated with Obama on inauguration day.

— Matt Viser

Bay State’s Simas gets promotion at White House

WASHINGTON — David Simas, a Taunton native and former presidential and gubernatorial aide, is taking on an elevated role at the White House as President Obama enters his second term.

Simas, who oversaw much of the polling and focus groups during Obama’s reelection campaign, will be assistant to the president and deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy.

The news comes on a day when the White House announced a series of position changes, including a new chief of staff, Denis McDonough.

In an interview with the Globe earlier this month, Simas ruled out being a candidate for either an interim Senate appointment or governor in 2014.

“I am committed to being here for the next couple of years,” Simas said. “I am here, physically and mentally.”

Simas, a former member of Taunton’s School Committee and City Council, was tapped by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007 to be his deputy chief of staff. Patrick later recommended Simas for a job at the White House, where Simas worked as a top aide to David Axelrod, who has been a strategist for both Patrick and Obama.

In 2011, when Simas traveled with Obama to Portugal — from which Simas’s parents had emigrated — the president introduced him to the media.

“David’s family is watching,’’ said Obama. “This is my friend David Simas.’’

Simas has quickly made a name for himself in Democratic circles, in both Massachusetts and in Washington, which led to speculation that he might run for office. But after moving his family several times — from Massachusetts to Washington to Chicago and back to Washington — he has been eager to stay put for several years.

— Matt Viser

Help sought for students
of closed technical institute

WASHINGTON — The Massachusetts congressional delegation on Friday asked the Department of Education and the Department of Veteran Affairs to help the 1,400 Bay State students abandoned by the sudden closure of American Career Institute, a for-profit technical school that had campuses in Framingham, Cambridge, Woburn, Springfield, and Braintree, as well as in Maryland.

The institution closed its doors earlier in January without warning students, blaming the owners’ abrupt decision on their inability to secure additional credit from the school’s lenders.

The delegation, led by Representative Edward Markey of Malden, also raised questions about the process used to accredit the institution and assess its financial health in a letter to the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training.

Students who had been enrolled in programs for allied health, digital media, information technology, software development, and database administration suddenly had nowhere to turn because the school’s website and phone numbers stopped working.

— Tracy Jan

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.

Tracy Jan can be reached at tjan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeTracyJan.

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.
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