Remember the presidential campaign? Feels like forever ago, but you may recall that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was out of town a lot rounding up votes for President Obama.
Cable news bookers grew to rely on him whenever they needed someone to trash Mitt Romney's “extreme” views on immigration. And he didn't stop there, once saying, “If they had their way, Mitt Romney and the Republicans would repeal the 20th century.”
Well: bygones. Villaraigosa and Romney are bros now.
Villaraigosa's reward for all that campaigning was a handshake and the satisfaction of a job well done — but not the cabinet post he had been angling for. So now in the twilight days of his mayoral administration, he's looking to make some new friends.
Up in Sacramento on Tuesday, he let slip that he's been chatting with Romney. Villaraigosa was there to give a speech at the Sacramento Press Club, and afterwards he was asked whether he would endorse either of the candidates running to succeed him.
On its face, it doesn't seem like the best opportunity to name-drop the defeated Republican presidential candidate, but Villaraigosa is a pro and he managed to slip it in.
“You know, I said this to Mitt Romney yesterday on the telephone,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee, “and I actually said it to him a couple months ago at a dinner right after the election, I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to put their name on the ballot, run for president of the United States, in this case run for mayor, so I hold both individuals in high regard.”
Clearly the entire point of that answer is to brag that he talked to Romney — the rest is blather. We're left to wonder what he and Romney were talking about. Life after politics? Cutting Medicare and Social Security? Whatever it was, Villaraigosa was so evidently giddy about the conversation that he just had to tell someone.
Villaraigosa has been buddying up to the wealthy more and more lately, recently getting Michael Bloomberg to spend $1 million on the L.A. school board election. That seems to have had an effect on his politics. The onetime progressive Democrat now prefers the centrist, pox-on-both-your-houses routine popular among the Fix the Debt crowd, of which he is a proud member.
“You know, I have a couple of Republican friends who kind of think that I'm challenging my friends from time to time, and they like it,” Villaraigosa told the Bee.
Maybe one of them will like it enough to offer him a job.