PARK CITY, Utah – Six Republican presidential hopefuls, GOP donors, and political operatives from both sides of the aisle gathered for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s annual “Experts and Enthusiasts” conference.
Romney says the purpose of the three-day E2 summit was to bring together a wide range of leaders in the political, financial and private sectors to talk about the direction for the country.
Following the summit, Romney spoke exclusively with EastIdahoNews.com about 2016, his future, family, legacy, and how he spends date night with his wife Ann.
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com Anchor: There are several Republican candidates that have announced they’re running or intend to run. What do you think those candidates need to do in order to beat Hillary Clinton?
Mitt Romney, former Republican Presidential Candidate: Well, I think this is going to be campaign focused on who really can help the middle class and who can help people that are in poverty come out of poverty. I think that’s the center piece of the campaign. And what we’ve seen over the last seven years is a president who speaks about those things but has been singularly unsuccessful in doing anything that would really help the middle class of America. So income inequality is greater, the number of people in poverty is greater, wages haven’t grown, and for the first time in American history more businesses are closing their doors every year than are opening their doors. So the president’s policies haven’t worked and Hillary Clinton’s policies are the same old same old. It’s a continuation of what we’ve seen under President Obama. It didn’t work then. It won’t work in the future. We need a new vision. Secretary Clinton said that businesses don’t create jobs. If she doesn’t understand where jobs come from, I’m not sure how she’s going to help people who want better jobs.
Eaton: How do the Republicans get people energized? Get them excited that there could be a change coming?
Romney: I think Republicans very badly want to see a change and what they hope is that we’ll nominate someone who actually can win and implement policies that will help average Americans. That’s what they want to see happen. They’ll also look at what’s happening on an international front. Under Secretary Clinton our interests around the world, our safety in fact, those things have diminished. And they’ll want to see someone who has strong foreign policy capability and understanding but also someone who can get things going here at home and I think we’ve got several people who are able to communicate that kind of message.
Eaton: The cover of Drudge yesterday said “Romney Teases” with a big photo of you saying you might be gunning for Secretary of State.
Romney: No. Sorry. I wanted to be president and so I’m campaigning for people who I think have the best shot of becoming our next president and as soon as we have a nominee I’ll be making it very clear my overwhelming support for that person.
Eaton: You had your E2 Summit over the weekend. What are some other things you’ve been involved with? We know about the fight with Evander Holyfield for charity. You’ve very actively involved in your charity work.
Romney: I’m fortunate enough to have several streams of activity these days. One is political. I’m going to keep working for candidates whether for the Senate or the house governorships as well as the presidency. I’m working for people who are in those races who I think will make a difference and I spend a good deal of time doing that. Number two – you’re right, I’m involved in a number of charities that I care a lot about. One provides surgeries for the very poorest young people and older people across the world in 25 countries and that’s the group who I had the charity fight. Another charity is the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Research and this is a center which is doing really extraordinary research with regards to Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, brain tumors , and Multiple Sclerosis. Obviously with Ann’s name associated with it we’ve got some responsibility to help raise money for it. And then I’m back in business. I do a little real estate investing and investing in the venture capital world so my life is full.
Eaton: You mentioned Ann. When’s the last time the two of you went out on a date?
Romney: The house is an empty nest now so we’re on dates almost every night. If I’m not traveling somewhere or if she’s not off giving a speech somewhere we’re together. We go out for dinner and we used to go off to the movies. We do that less these days cause we DVR a TV show we enjoy and watch that together. As you get older you’ll find out date nights are not that rare.
Eaton: You’re big with your family. What advice would you have for families out there who are trying to stay close together when there’s so much going on these days?
Romney: I’m afraid the challenge of all the sporting events kids have to go to and of course the smart phones and I-pads — a lot of kids gets sucked into activities and into realms that are not part of the family life. I guess getting together for family night, having sporting events together, going on vacations together – just doing things. It doesn’t have to be a big deal vacation. It can be just around town but doing things with your family and only your family without all sorts of other people around is probably a good way of keeping those ties as close and binding as possible.
Eaton: What advice would you have for high schoolers or college grads that go out into the world and want to succeed and do well for themselves but it’s so competitive. What would you tell them?
Romney: That’s a long and big topic and I’ve given some commencement speeches where I lay out a whole series of things but probably the center of all that is to relax a bit and recognize that you’re not defined by how much money you make or how many promotions you get. Instead focus on your family, your relationship with your children, your wife, your relationship with God. Those are the things that really define success in life. Do the things you enjoy doing and do your present job well. Don’t spend all your time trying to think about some new thing you might do. Do what you’re doing as well as you can. By the way, while you’re doing that current job you may see something that’s not being done so well in the market place and have an opportunity to start a business of your own.
Eaton: Last question – what do you want to be remembered for?
Romney: I want to remembered by my family as someone who cared very deeply for each of my kids and my grandkids and provided for them in the best way I knew how. That I was a person devoted to my faith and my family.
Eaton: Governor, Thank you.