September 3, 2008

Romney: No Sights Set on Cabinet

By Richard Wolf

For a man whose personal fortune may have kept him off the Republican ticket, Mitt Romney isn't afraid to keep making and spending money as he looks toward 2012.

Romney, who invested $42 million of his money in a failed presidential campaign, may have lost his chance at the second spot the moment McCain could not recall how many houses he owns. Republicans are going after the blue-collar vote, and two multimillionaires on the ticket might have doomed their chances in November.

Still, the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hasn't dampened Romney's spirit or lessened his involvement in GOP politics. The former Massachusetts governor is raising money for Republican candidates here through his Free and Strong America PAC, a political action committee that allows him to raise and spend money to help McCain and others.

In a session with USA TODAY, Romney said he has no interest in a Cabinet post if McCain is elected nor in running for governor or the U.S. Senate from another state, such as Utah. He would not rule out another run for the presidency but said, "I'm not going to rule it in, either. I think it's very hard to tell whether there's any political future in my life."

For now, he's become a Palin cheerleader, talking up her qualifications to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. "She's well-spoken, poised, articulate," he said. "She has a connection with moms and families across the country that is unusual."

Her small-town background as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska -- pop. of 9,780, according to the 2007 Census -- won't hurt because "a lot of Americans live in small towns," he said.

He predicted Palin would do well in her only debate against Democrat Joe Biden, who, at 65, is a generation older than Palin. Biden has served in the U.S. Senate since he was 30. While Biden "could talk a dog off a meat wagon," Romney said, "Sarah Palin speaks from the heart."