Romney Walks Middle Line in 2016 Bid

January 19, 2015 Updated: January 19, 2015

Two-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been dismissed by pundits on both sides of the political aisle after he all but confirmed a third run for the White House in a speech Friday, where he gave a sketch of a campaign platform.

“2016 is not going to be about the Obama years. It is going to be about the post Obama era,” Romney said. “We have to make sure and provide opportunity for all Americans regardless of the neighborhood they live in. We have to lift people out of poverty.”

On the left, Romney was ridiculed for his pivot to a progressive economic agenda at odds with the rhetoric of his 2012 political campaign. Various media outlets dug up Romney’s 2012 gaffes, among them his comment about liking the ability to fire people and his dismissal of winning over 47 percent of voters who don’t pay net federal taxes.

During the 2012 Republican primaries, Romney once said “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” The first sentence was quoted out of context and gave the impression of a candidate who was callous about the downtrodden.

“It’s simply never going to be believable to go from car elevators, off-shore accounts, and his famous 47 percent comment to the populist income equality warrior,” Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, told Politico.

From the right, Romney has been dismissed by many as a man of the past. Influential conservative columnist George Will wrote a column on the same day of Romney’s speech urging him not to run a third time.

“This is probably the strongest, most diverse Republican field since 1856,” Will said on Fox News Sunday. “The Republican party is geared for a very strong showing in 2016 and they do need to look backwards.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.), widely believed to be planning his own presidential bid, called out Romney as a moderate who would sink the GOP’s chances in 2016.

“If we nominate a candidate in that mold, the same people who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 will stay home in 2016, and the Democrats will win again,” Cruz told hundreds of activists at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention.

According to a CBS poll from last week, Romney was the political front-runner among Republican primary voters, of whom 59 percent said they would like to see him in the 2016 race. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was second with 50 percent, and Mike Huckabee a distant third at 40 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.