Romney makes nice with rivals

Mitt Romney, the early favorite of many for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, is making nice with his rivals from the last race.

The former Massachusetts governor, who was the source of much consternation among his opponents during the GOP presidential primaries last year, has made strides to repair those relationships in recent days.

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The latest example came Saturday in Romney’s speech to the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan, in which Romney will praise former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) effort to clean up New York and suggest Detroit could use a similar program.

“Detroit needs to be given a Giuliani-style shake up,” Romney said, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks. “I hope the new mayor does just that. And Michigan needs to send a clear and resounding message to the world’s employers that Michigan is a good place for business.”

Romney’s gratuitous praise of Giuliani comes just days before 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.) is set to co-host a fundraiser for Romney’s Free and Strong America political action committee.

Romney’s efforts to repair relationships with his former opponents could serve the 2008 runner-up well during the next presidential campaign.

McCain is unlikely to run again, as he would be 76 years old on Election Day 2012. Giuliani is more of an open question, though he is weighing a 2010 run at governor and succumbed early to a disappointing presidential effort last year.

Detroit and the state of Michigan in general have suffered tremendously during the economic downturn, with the auto industry’s struggles at the heart of the pains. The mayor’s office there has also taken a hit in its credibility due to former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's (D) 2008 felony conviction and corruption charges.

Romney has ties to the state as the son of former Gov. George Romney, and it could play a key role in his 2012 plans. He is also doing an even with Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who is running for governor next year.

Romney offered some praise of the administration’s handling of the auto industry, but also said the companies’ stock should be given to the people of the United States.

“I said last year that the auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy so that they could survive, get stronger and grow,” he said. “I’m glad that’s what was finally done. But Barack Obama and the feds shouldn’t be calling the shots. Every share of GM held by the government should be given, now, to U.S. taxpayers.”

Another potential 2012 candidate, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, is also taking part in the conference, as is Senate candidate and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.