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Mitt Romney to make first public speech next month at conservative conference

WASHINGTON -- After months of avoiding the limelight following his unsuccessful presidential bid, Mitt Romney is planning to make his first public speech next month at a large gathering of conservatives.

Romney is planning to address the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 15, a gathering just outside Washington where some of the top Republicans will try to make their mark.

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Among the other speakers this year will be Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida; Representative Paul Ryan, who was Romney’s running mate; former Florida governor Jeb Bush; and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

“I look forward to saying thank you to the many friends and supporters who were instrumental in helping my campaign,” Romney said in a statement.

CPAC is the same conference where Romney officially dropped out of the Republican primary race in 2008, and where last year he said he had been a “severely conservative Republican governor.”

Romney has kept out of the public eye since he lost the election. He has attended several gatherings with his former donors, meant as events to thank them for supporting his campaign, but all of them have been private.

At one of those events, he told supporters that he planned to stay politically active by supporting like-minded candidates and weighing in on issues he cared about. But so far he has kept quiet.

News that Romney would speak, first reported by National Review Online, was confirmed by the American Conservative Union, which hosts the event.

“The thousands gathered at CPAC this year are eager to hear from the 2012 GOP presidential candidate at his first public appearance since the elections,” Al Cardenas, chairman of the ACU, said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing Governor Romney’s comments on the current state of affairs in America and the world, and his perspective on the future of the conservative movement.”

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