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Politics

Romney Eyes GOP Kingpin Role

BOSTON — Mitt Romney is trying to re-emerge as a force in Republican politics after once fearing he would be viewed as “a loser for life” if he failed to win the U.S. Presidency.

Romney has quietly sought to use his influence in the Republican fight for the Senate majority this year and its quest to retake the White House in 2016.

The effort is fueling whispers about a third Presidential run. But those closest to Romney suggest he’s more interested in shaping party politics by lending his name and record-breaking fundraising machine to what he considers the next generation of electable conservatives.

Allies say Romney’s political brand has benefited from an ongoing leadership void in the Republican Party and a positive response to a recent documentary film, “Mitt,” that shows his personal side. But the resurgence comes in contrast to Romney’s own prediction leading up to his loss to Barack Obama just a year and a half ago.

“I have looked, by the way, at what happens to anybody in this country who loses as the nominee of their party,” Romney says in “Mitt” during a candid moment. “They become a loser for life, all right? That’s it. It’s over.”

The former Massachusetts governor is fighting that perception in this midterm election year. This week, he hosts his annual “ideas summit” in Utah, a private event that features a handful of potential Presidential contenders, key members of Romney’s inner circle and major political donors.

This year’s theme is American Leadership at Home and Abroad, according to organizers who describe the informal conference as a nonpartisan exchange of ideas.

Spencer Zwick, who led a Romney campaign fundraising machine that raised more money than any Republican campaign in history, says the highlights will include a shotgun outing with Romney’s 2012 Vice Presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan, mountain biking with Sen. Rob Portman, and golfing with Sen. Rand Paul. Other potential presidential candidates set to appear include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The business community will be represented by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Univision CEO Randy Falco, among others.

The three-day conference helps connect those weighing presidential runs with a coalition of business leaders and individuals with whom Romney has worked hard to build relationships, Zwick said.

The Utah gathering represents only a part of Romney’s impact on today’s political world. Republican candidates from Idaho to Florida are fighting for his endorsement.

Romney so far this year has endorsed 29 candidates running for statewide office or Congress across 23 states, according to his office. Romney has participated in 17 campaign events this year, but all but two were private fundraisers.

The 67-year-old grandfather of 22 is relying upon the same small group of longtime advisers that guided his presidential campaign as he weighs the midterm races.

“He’s surprised obviously in a pleasant way by the outpouring of affection from a lot of folks and the demand for his help and advice,” said longtime adviser Ron Kaufman. “He could fill his schedule five times over.”

Kaufman continued: “He’ll do whatever it takes to help us control the Senate and get the White House back — not for Mitt Romney, but for his 22 grandkids.”

___

By Steve Peoples. AP writer Thomas Beaumont in Iowa contributed to this report.

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