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Whatever happens on Election Day, Mitt Romney's quest for the White House will have been an expensive one. After all, in 2008 Romney spent $45,000,000 of his own money in his first failed bid to secure the Republican nomination. And as Forbes suggested two weeks ago, CEO Romney's departure from Bain Capital to pursue the presidency potentially cost him $2 billion, making his "the most expensive political career in political history."

Nevertheless, Mitt Romney for years has portrayed his decades-long, single-minded focus on attaining the highest office in the land (which his wife Ann described as "his destiny") as the sacrifice of a man committed to saving America from itself. As he has put it throughout both of his runs for the White House, "This, for me, is not about the next step in my political career. I don't have a political career."

Governor Romney introduced that notion of the gold-plated, white knight five years. As the AP reported a Romney appearance in September 2007:

"I'm not in this race for the next step in my political career. I don't have a political career, to tell you the truth," Romney said during a stop at Chapman University. "I've only been in politics four years as a governor. I loved the experience, but my life is my wife and my family. My career was building an enterprise, a business, with some other fellows."
The failed Senate candidate turned former Massachusetts Governor turned failed presidential candidate turned 2012 Republican White House hopeful resurrected that claim in the summer of 2011. During a September GOP debate last year, he announced:
"For 25 years, I spent my life in business. I only spent four years as a governor, and I joke that I didn't inhale. I'm still a business guy, all right?"
Just days later, Romney made the same point on MSNBC's Morning Joe:

Continue reading below the fold.

"Why am I in it?  It's not the next step in my political career, by the way. I don't have a political career."
But it wasn't until a December 2011 Republican debate in Iowa that any of Mitt Romney's GOP rivals called him on his whopper. When moderator Diane Sawyer asked Romney to explain the differences between himself and Newt Gingrich, Romney noted that "Speaker Gingrich has been in government for a long time" before concluding:
"But the real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector."
Gingrich was having none of it and responded by pointing out the obvious:
"Okay. Let's start with the last one, let-- let's be candid. The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994...you'da been a 17-year career politician by now, if you'd won."
Despite his prime-time shaming, Mitt Romney continued with his laughable sound bite. This June, Romney explained why he was running for the presidency to Bob Schieffer of CBS News:
"Perhaps part of what I would be able to do flows from the fact that I'm really not a guy that's going for the next step of my political career. Bob, I don't have a political career. I served as governor for four years. I spent my life in the private sector. The private sector is where I've made my mark.

I'm in this race because I want to get America back on track. I don't care about re-elections."

For its part, the Associated Press seems to have swallowed this pablum. "From central Florida to central Iowa, the stories Romney tells in daily campaign stops have changed to include intimate personal details," AP reported this weekend, adding that "the emphasis on his business career has been forgotten."
It was all economy, all the time.

"This, for me, is not about the next step in my political career," the former Massachusetts governor who also ran for president in 2008 told a New Hampshire audience in September 2011. "I don't have a political career. I spent 25 years in business."

But three days before Election Day, Romney the businessman had completed the journey to becoming Romney the politician.

Of course, Mitt Romney has been a politician--and often an unsuccessful one-- for 20 years. (Even while he was running the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Romney maneuvered throughout in order to keep his options open in both Utah and Massachusetts.)  Hopefully, American voters on Tuesday will bring Romney's political career--the one he continues to deny exists--to an unhappy close.
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