But it wasn’t just Romney’s remarks on the donor conference call that have Republicans treating him like persona non grata. Unlike the 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, who returned to the Senate after his loss, Romney’s political future within the party is unclear.
Some confidants have speculated that he is more likely to return to the private sector rather than continue to be a player in the political arena, especially given what is shaping up to be a crowded field of 2016 contenders.
“There’s a real sense among many Republicans of a generational shift — the farm team on the gubernatorial and congressional level hasn’t been this strong since the mid-’90′s,” said Republican strategist Joe Brettell, “and as they step into the spotlight, I think you’ll hear the same principles of economic opportunity, strong defense and personal freedom expressed in a new way by dynamic new leaders.”
And as some of those new leaders sought to distance themselves from Romney’s comments this week, the Republican candidate told those same donors the wound from his loss last week still feels fresh.