WHAT'S THE IDEA?
According to former Romney advisers, the former candidate has budgeted more than a million dollars of his own money, and would tap a number of his financial supporters for more, to set up a new foundation -- perhaps in Michigan -- that would promote conservative policy ideas.
"Governor Romney believes in a competitive marketplace for ideas, so he's more than willing to invest in conservative ideas that compete against Newt Gingrich or the American Enterprise Institute or anyone else's policy ideas. Anything that will help the movement," says a longtime conservative based in Washington, who backed Romney.
But Romney's conservative policy ideas largely paled in comparison to most of the other candidates in the race, including some of John McCain's, Fred Thompson's, and even Mike Huckabee's. Romney's tax plan was not as aggressive as Thompson's or Huckabee's, and his immigration reform plan was closer to the moderate plan put forward by McCain.
Part of Romney's strategy is to keep a core group of close campaign associates employed for the long term for another run at the Presidency should McCain lose in 2008.
Romney is also looking to parrot some of the other candidates. For example, two months ago, Romney advisers approached Citadel Broadcasting, which syndicates the radio's Paul Harvey commentaries. "Governor Romney saw that that was how Fred Thompson got his jumpstart in the campaign. He's not above borrowing a good idea if it will help him," says a former adviser. "We saw that on the campaign trail. He'd see what another candidate was doing and say to one of us, 'You know, we can do that better, or we can do that a bit differently and really make it work.' I think that's what he's doing with following in Thompson's footsteps."