In the weeks after the presidential election, some observers have seen signs that Mitt Romney is taking his defeat pretty hard. For what it's worth, a photo surfaced of him pumping gas, in which his famously sculpted hair flopped loose in un-gelled, disheveled glory. Then there was the Facebook photo of him and his wife, Ann, in which it appeared that the teetotaler had just woken up from a well-deserved bender (or, alternatively, was just tired). There were the comments he made to his wealthiest donors, in which he blamed his defeat on "gifts" that President Obama had showered on minorities and women voters. The seemingly bitter response provoked rebukes — and even the suggestion of utter banishment — from his own party. However, Romney's associates say he's not bitter at all, even if his wife is profoundly disappointed and he himself is struggling to find ways to occupy his time, says Philip Rucker at The Washington Post:
By all accounts, the past month has been most difficult on Romney’s wife, Ann, who friends said believed up until the end that ascending to the White House was their destiny. They said she has been crying in private and trying to get back to riding her horses.
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.
Romney is figuring out what to do next with his life, and could either return to business or become more involved with the Mormon Church, says Rucker. In the process of dealing with defeat and putting his life back together, he may have finally won some sympathy from voters, says Ben Smith at BuzzFeed:
This is what candidate Mitt Romney, who began running while he was still governor of Massachusetts, never really had — any basic reason [for voters] not just to admire him, but to identify with him, even to pity him a little....
In the end, Romney did the only thing he could to make people like him: He lost.
Some, however, are not quite willing to extend their sympathy just yet. After all, it may have been a lack of sympathy on Romney's part that did him in, says Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect:
One is inclined to feel sorry for the guy, until you remember that he ran a campaign which combined a narrow economic message — America should be grateful to the job creators — with tangible disdain for large swaths of people, from undocumented immigrants and single women to African Americans, gays, and lesbians.