Mitt Romney is coming back into public view.
This weekend the former Republican presidential candidate will appear on "Fox News Sunday," his first interview since losing to Barack Obama nearly four months ago. And on March 15, Romney will speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, the same event at which he declared himself a "severely conservative Republican governor" during a 2012 speech.
Romney's re-emergence is likely to be met by a mixed response from Republicans. Yes, many respect him as a decent man who has done a lot of good things in his life. But just as many are still angry at him for losing. They view 2012 as a winnable race, had Romney run a sharper, more creative, more aggressive campaign. Of course, Romney and his aides worked hard, but they were outplayed on many fronts by an Obama campaign that knew how to win.
A lot of the criticism directed at Romney is valid. He and his top advisers did make a lot of mistakes, big and small. But for a moment, perhaps, Republicans should appreciate one thing about Mitt Romney. After he lost, he has not disgraced himself and his party. And that is a lot more than can be said of the previous Republican presidential campaign.
After the 2008 race, a number of John McCain's senior aides spent months attacking each other, trashing vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and in general showing by example why they ran such a disorganized and ineffective campaign.
Within hours of McCain's defeat, top aides were dumping on Palin, accusing her of being a rogue candidate, of blowing $150,000 in campaign money on a new wardrobe, and of being woefully unprepared for even the most basic duties of a running mate. Palin was a "diva" and a "whack job." And when Palin loyalists came to her defense, they found themselves under attack, too.
When National Review's Rich Lowry wrote an account of the infighting, he titled it "In the Snake Pit: The Sad End of the McCain Campaign." That pretty much told the story.
Even after the first disappointment of defeat faded, McCain's aides continued to attack each other, for fun and profit. They spoke in depth to the authors of the campaign book "Game Change," who were happy to recount the dysfunction in cinematic style. And then the story literally became cinema, when HBO focused the movie "Game Change" on the Palin mess.