After a year and a half of campaigning, Mitt Romney will need some time to decompress from his presidential loss. Like fellow Bay Staters Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, Romney will be haunted by various might-have-beens and what-ifs. When he hears the word Sandy, he won’t think of Little Orphan Annie’s dog.
Romney’s presidential ambitions drew him apart from the Bay State, which he led ably as governor. The conservative stances he took in order to win the Republican presidential nomination doomed him with Massachusetts voters. But it’s worth remembering that when he found his voice after the first debate, he offered a moderate, bipartisan, patriotic vision. It felt sincere and reflective of his commitment to public service.
In victory, President Obama suggested he would like to find a role for Romney in public life, making real the bipartisanship that both men held out as an ideal during the campaign. Romney should go for it. If a formal role felt too confining, he could be an adviser on an issue of mutual concern, such as reforming the corporate income tax. Mitt Romney is a talented and civic-minded figure; there’s no need for him to withdraw simply because he lost the presidency.