Mitt Romney is officially returning to the political stage.
A Romney aide confirmed that the former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor will speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington next month. It will be Romney’s first major political appearance since he lost the election to President Barack Obama last November.
Word of Romney’s appearance was first reported by National Review.
An aide said Romney will use the appearance to “express his appreciation” to people for their support during the 2012 campaign.
It's a curious venue, however, given that Romney has never gotten an especially warm welcome from the CPAC audience. While he won the conference’s presidential straw poll several times, attendees openly questioned Romney’s conservative credentials.
In response, Romney had ad-libbed a line during his CPAC speech last year—insisting he had been a “severely conservative” governor of Massachusetts. It was a line that repeatedly came back to haunt him during the GOP primary and the general election, when he sought to appeal to moderate voters.
The Romney camp would not elaborate on why he had decided to speak at CPAC. With the exception of a meeting with Obama at the White House in late November and various paparazzi sightings, Romney has stayed largely out of sight, spending most of his time at his vacation home in La Jolla, Calif.
No date has been set for Romney’s speech. The conference runs March 14-16.