SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney had second thoughts about making another run for president in the spring of 2011 because of what he believed would be drawbacks for GOP voters, including his Mormon faith, according to a new book.
"Being Mormon would obviously be a challenge for some evangelical voters. I didn't know whether that would persist or whether that would go away during the primaries," Romney was quoted as saying in "Collision 2012," released last week and now available.
The new book by Washington Post chief correspondent Dan Balz, subtitled "Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America" includes a chapter called "Romney's Take" based on an interview with the Republican candidate.
The two-time presidential candidate told Balz a top aide had said the GOP "is more Southern, and you're from the North. It's more evangelical, and you're a Mormon. And it's more populist, and you're a rich guy. This is going to be an uphill fight."
Romney also said he was concerned he "would be tainted" by the health care plan he pushed and implemented as governor of Massachusetts because it "had been copied in some respects" by President Barack Obama.
He confirmed to Balz that he was so pessimistic about his chances he called his son Tagg in the spring of 2011 and said he thought he wouldn't run after all. Romney had voted "no" to a White House bid at a family meeting during the previous Christmas.
What Romney said he didn't want was "to get into the race and make it more difficult for the leader of our party to beat the president." Even after he committed to run, Romney said there were several times he thought he might lose the GOP nomination.
For "two or three weeks there — maybe longer — I thought it was more likely that Rick Perry would be the nominee, or even Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich," he said, despite assurances from his campaign staff.
Romney said his performance in the presidential debates helped him connect with voters, calling his first debate with the president as the high point of the year. "People saw the entire me as opposed to an eight-second clip of me," he said.
What Balz said may have been the low point of Romney's campaign, the video of the candidate telling donors 47 percent of Americans were victims dependent on government help, was misunderstood, Romney said.
"The perception is I'm saying I don't care about 47 percent of the people or something of that nature, and that's simply wrong," Romney told Balz, adding his comment was clearly "a very damaging quote and hurt my campaign effort."
But by the eve of the general election, at a massive rally in New Hampshire, Romney said he saw voters who'd become "passionate about the election and about our campaign — that was something that had become palpable."
Romney, who had written an acceptance speech but not one conceding the race, said he woke up on Election Day thinking he would win because "the campaign had changed from being clinical to being emotional. And that was very promising."