During his speech at CPAC on Friday, Mitt Romney acknowledged that he'd made "mistakes" during the 2012 campaign and confessed that "as someone who just lost the last election, I'm probably not the best person to chart the course for the next election." The former GOP presidential nominee didn't dwell on the campaign or his mistakes. He didn't even speak much about himself.
Rather, he offered two pieces of advice: First, he told conservatives, look to the best your party has to offer. Second, look to the best your country has to offer the world.
"I would urge you to learn the lessons that come from some of our greatest success stories: the 30 Republican governors," Romney said.
"Yes, they are winning elections, but more importantly, they are solving problems," Romney continued. "Big problems. Important problems. Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia secured a constitutional amendment to expand charter schools. Governor Rick Snyder signed Right to Work legislation—in Michigan! Several secured tort reform. Many turned huge deficits into surpluses. Republican governors reached across the aisle, offered innovative solutions and have been willing to take the heat to make tough decisions.
"We need the ideas and leadership of each of these governors. We particularly need to hear from the Governors of the blue and purple states, like Bob McDonnell, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Susanna Martinez, Chris Christie, and Brian Sandoval because their states are among those we must win to take the Senate and the White House."
Romney also praised his running mate, Paul Ryan, and then went on to offer some advice to future presidential candidates and President Obama.
"If I were to offer advice to any president of the United States, it would be this: do whatever you can do to keep America the most prosperous and free and powerful nation on earth," Romney said. He added:
It is no secret that the last century was an American century. And it is no secret that over the span of the 21st century, America's pre-eminent position is far from guaranteed. The consequence if America were to be surpassed would be devastating. Why? Because among the primary rivals for world leadership—China, Russia, and the Jihadists—not one believes in the freedoms we take for granted. Freedom depends on American leadership.
American leadership depends on a military so strong, so superior, that no one would think to engage it. Our military strength depends on an economy so strong that it can support such a military. And our economy depends on a people so strong, so educated, so resolute, so hard working, so inventive, and so devoted to their children's future, that other nations look at us with respect and admiration.
That is the America we grew up in, and it is the America our children deserve.
What other nation would have enjoyed hegemonic military power for a quarter of a century, and never have used it to seek revenge against its former foes or to seize precious natural resources from the weak?
What nation is the most philanthropic in the world, the first to bind up the wounds of the injured from hurricanes, tsunamis, and war?
What nation is the largest contributor to the fight against AIDS in Africa?
Who came to the rescue of Europe when it faced its darkest hour and came to the rescue of others under the threat of tyranny, in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq? Whatever you think of these interventions, the impulse behind them was liberation, not conquest. In all of human history, there has never been a great power that has so often used its power to liberate others from subjugation, to set the captives free. This we must teach our children, and never ourselves forget.
I'm inspired by a people who believe in and live for something greater than themselves—whether their faith, their country, their family, their school.
You can read Romney's full speech, as prepared for delivery, here.