Romney Cautions GOP Against Government Shutdown

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney offers his party advice.

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Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS

Mitt Romney makes a point during remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., March 15, 2013.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Republicans’ 2012 nominee for president, cautioned his party Tuesday against provoking a government shutdown this fall.

Speaking at a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican Party in Wolfeboro, N.H., Romney said protest votes leading to a shutdown — as contemplated by several GOP lawmakers — are “inexcusable” at such a critical juncture.

“I badly want Obamacare to go away, and stripping it of funds has appeal,” Romney said according to his prepared remarks. “But we need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government. What would come next…what would come next when soldiers aren’t paid, when seniors fear for their Medicare and Social Security, and when the FBI is off duty? I’m afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next elections, and the people of the nation would not be happy. I think there are better ways to remove Obamacare. And we should work to replace it with healthcare reforms that actually lower costs and give patients—not government—control over their own healthcare.”

Romney, who has kept a low profile since he was defeated by President Barack Obama in November, told donors “it has been hard to watch or read the news. What we feared would happen, is happening.” He listed a slow economic recovery and troubles around the world as products of the Obama second term.

“Russia modernizes it nuclear arsenal, and basks in the huge lead it has in its total nuclear arsenal of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons,” Romney said, returning to a theme of his 2012 campaign. “And we, we shrink our nuclear force and cut back on our missile defenses.”

The former presidential candidate listed three main priorities for the country: addressing the national debt, making businesses more competitive and improving education.

Romney also offered advice to his party, which has been fractured since Election Day, saying “we have got to stay smart, very smart.”

“Our policies have to be the smartest, the best, the most promising,” he said. “We cannot change policy to follow popularity; in the end, right prevails. We can change policy if new information shows us that we were wrong—of course, that’s part of staying smart.”

In a nod to New Hampshire’s influential status in presidential primaries, Romney cautioned that while there will be many qualified GOP candidates in 2016, “there will only be one or perhaps two who actually could win the election in November.” He stopped short of saying who should follow in his footsteps as the next Republican nominee.