Talent joins Romney presidential campaign as adviser
St. Louis, MO – Former Missouri U.S. Senator Jim Talent is joining the Mitt Romney for President campaign as an adviser. The former Massachusetts governor says Talent will chair a task force that helps him on domestic policy.
Talent lost his bid for re-election last year to Democrat Claire McCaskill. He hasn't said if he'll personally get back into politics.
In his new post, which is unpaid, Talent will oversee all domestic policy development for Romney's campaign.
"With Jim's experience and extensive knowledge, he will help us look beyond the status quo and answer these challenges with bold, new approaches," Romney said.
Talent has kept a low profile since losing the November race. Earlier this month, he was named a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.
"I made a decision after the election that probably the most important thing I could do politically in the next couple of years was to try to get a good nominee" for president, Talent said in an interview. Romney "knows how to take ideas and translate them into legislation or policies that really work."
Even before Thursday's announcement, Talent had spent the past few weeks advising Romney.
"He's been a very important part of our policy development effort to this point and he's going to continue to play an important role," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said.
Romney is a prodigious fundraiser who has faced questions about his conservative credentials on issues such as abortion and gay rights. While he ran as a moderate during his gubernatorial campaign, he now stresses his opposition to abortion and gay marriage. Talent praised Romney's "strong conservative vision."
At the Heritage Foundation, Talent will specialize in military readiness and welfare reform issues, two areas in which he focused during his four years in the Senate and seven years in the House. One of his major objectives is to raise awareness in Congress and around the nation about the importance of funding of the military in times of peace and war, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Talent said he will continue commuting between Washington and his family's home in suburban St. Louis. He's also considering offers to do consulting work with one or more law firms.
Talent did not rule out a future bid for political office. "I don't foreclose anything but I don't see anything in the near future," Talent said. "To my surprise, my kids have liked having me around, particularly the teenagers."
In the days after the November election, he blamed his loss to McCaskill on a national tide against Republicans and the war in Iraq. McCaskill won 49.5% of the vote, compared with 47.4% for Talent. Talent is not the only prominent Missourian to back Romney. Gov. Matt Blunt helped Romney raise $6.5 million in a one-day fundraising blitz earlier this month. Blunt and Romney also took a secret vacation to Alaska last year, along with Sam Fox, a major Republican fundraiser from St. Louis.
Romney will headline a banquet on Feb. 10 for the Missouri Republican Party at its annual Lincoln Days festivities in St. Louis.