By Mark Z. Barabak and Maeve Reston
Had things gone his way, Mitt Romney would have raised his right hand Monday and sworn an oath to serve as the nation’s 45th president. Instead, the vanquished Republican nominee spent the day at home in La Jolla, out of sight if not quite out of mind.
Former campaign aides said they had no details on how Romney spent his day, or whether he was among the millions of TV viewers who watched the events in Washington from afar.
But his absence from public view was consistent with the low profile Romney has kept since being soundly defeated by President Obama in both the Electoral College and popular vote.
The former Massachusetts governor surfaced soon after the election, telling a group of donors that Obama had won reelection thanks to “gifts” the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. (Romney was apparently unaware that reporters were listening in on the conference call.)
Since then, there have been occasional Romney sightings: pumping gas in San Diego, visiting Disneyland with family members — one photo captured the former candidate in a rollercoaster car hanging on in a seat behind sons Craig and Josh; taking in a screening of the new “Twilight” movie in Del Mar, and stocking up on paper towels, wrapping paper and V8 juice in early December.
Appearing in a more formal setting, Romney stopped by for lunch at the White House in late November, joining the president for a private conversation over white turkey chili and grilled chicken salad. Romney left without speaking to reporters.
He has also been largely absent from the social media sphere. Romney’s last tweet, to more than 1.6 million followers, was on Nov 10, thanking supporters and saying he would be “forever grateful to every one of you.” On Christmas Day, he posted the photo from his family Christmas card of himself and his wife, Ann, surrounded by their 18 grandchildren, the girls in hot pink dresses and the boys in teal polo shirts.
While Romney lay low Monday, his former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, congratulated the president via Twitter, saying he joined the country “in celebrating this American tradition.” He offered a more expansive posting on his Facebook page.
“We may disagree on matters of policy,” Ryan wrote. “But today we remember why we take those matters so seriously — because we seek the public good. It’s our highest duty — one that we share — and one for which we’re grateful.”
Within hours, Ryan had accumulated more than 200 “likes.”