Romney has been keeping in shape with bike rides around La Jolla, past the bistros and boutiques that hug the rugged coastline. The son of Detroit — who boasted of the Cadillacs he owned as a sign of support for the U.S. auto industry during the campaign — was spotted driving a new black Audi Q7, a luxury sport-utility vehicle manufactured in Slovakia.
Over Thanksgiving, one of Romney’s five sons, Josh, his wife and their four children packed into a single bedroom at the Spanish-style villa on Dunemere Drive here. One friend said they ordered their turkey dinner from Boston Market, the home-style restaurant chain, because there were too many kids running around the house to bother with cooking a feast.
That big renovation to transform the Romney beach house into an 11,000-square-foot manse complete with a car elevator? It hasn’t begun yet.
Romney also is plotting his next career steps — a return to business, perhaps, or something in the charitable realm or with the Mormon Church, said friends who have discussed possibilities with him. He kept a diary on the campaign trail and is considering writing a book.
“He’s a very vibrant, young 65-year-old. He looks 55 and acts 45,” Kaufman said. “He’s got a lot of life left in him.”
Romney has ruled out running for another office, adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said. Still, he doesn’t plan to recede completely from public life. “He’ll be involved in some fashion because that’s the commitment of his family to public service,” Fehrnstrom said.
After Romney’s father, George, lost his 1968 presidential race and finished serving in President Richard M. Nixon’s Cabinet, he ran a national nonprofit organization that advocated volunteerism. Friends said Romney has mentioned the Clinton Global Initiative as a model he might replicate.
Unlike the last two unsuccessful nominees, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Romney had no job waiting for him. His public platform fell out from under him on election night.
“That transition, to happen so fast — it’s got to be hard. He doesn’t talk about it or really show it, but I know it’s got to be painful,” said L.E. Simmons, an oil investor and close friend who visited the Romneys here the Friday after Thanksgiving.
In private, Romney has told friends he has little interest in helping the Republican Party rebuild and re-brand itself.
Advisers also said he felt no need to explain himself after his comments to donors about Obama using the power of incumbency to give “gifts” to female, black and Latino voters leaked into the public sphere. One adviser said Romney regretted the remarks “coming out the way it did.” Fehrnstrom, meanwhile, said, “He was expressing the frustration that any challenger would feel about an incumbent who used the powers of his incumbency — as we would have if the shoe was on the other foot.”