Former GOP presidential contender Romney says he should have stuck to economy in ‘08, not Iraq

By Glen Johnson, AP
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Romney says he should have stuck to economy in ‘08

CHICAGO — Republican Mitt Romney, in a rare moment of reflection about his losing 2008 presidential campaign, said Wednesday he would have been better served by keeping the focus on his “power alley” — the economy and his business background.

The former Massachusetts governor said Sen. John McCain, his main rival and the eventual nominee, successfully shifted the debate to heightened military engagement in Iraq, a topic that emphasized McCain’s military background and experience in national security matters.

“Sen. McCain went on a nationwide, pro-surge tour, and he had the credentials to do so,” Romney told reporters during a news conference. “I mean, you can’t compete with Sen. McCain on who’s most experienced in dealing with Iraq, so we were talking about those issues.”

Romney noted that after losing the Iowa caucuses to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and the New Hampshire primary to McCain, he was able to win in his native state of Michigan by highlighting his career as a venture capitalist and his commitment to rebuilding the U.S. auto industry.

The Michigan primary featured some of the nastiest exchanges of the campaign between Romney and McCain, who now are friends and political allies. At one point, Romney pilloried McCain for saying lost jobs “were not coming back,” while McCain said he would be “ashamed” not to reflect the reality of a changing economy.

“I think that one of the things that’s very important in running a campaign is to make sure that you’re known for the things that really motivate you,” Romney said Wednesday. “And I needed to do a better job to focus my campaign on the economy and getting the economy right and creating jobs. And whether through my ads or through my responses to debate questions or on the stump, my power alley is the economy. I understand why jobs come, why they go.”

The former governor said he hasn’t decided about running again in 2012, but he’s been hammering the Obama administration in a new book he’s promoting on a 19-state tour. His latest stop was Chicago, hometown to President Barack Obama.

will not be displayed