After Mitt Romney lamented that President Barack Obama had won re-election due to giving “gifts” to African-Americans, Latinos, women, and other members of his coalition, many Republicans have taken the opportunity to distance themselves from the failed presidential candidate.
Notably, most of the Republicans who have spoken out against Romney’s misguided election postscript are considered to be rising stars of the party — and potential presidential nominees in 2016. Although it seems premature to discuss the next presidential race, as Benjy Sarlin points out in Talking Points Memo, the immediate aftermath of a presidential election goes a long way toward forming the field for the next one. After all, almost exactly four years ago today Mitt Romney penned a New York Times op-ed titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” which would come to define his entire campaign.
With that in mind, the reaction to Romney’s “gifts” remarks may well be the first litmus test for the 2016 Republican primaries. Here are five potential candidates who responded by throwing Romney under the bus: