BOSTON (AP) - Mitt Romney is back, if only briefly.
The former Republican presidential candidate is re-emerging after nearly four months in seclusion at his Southern California home.
Former aides describe his burst of activity this month - a national broadcast interview, a speech at a gathering of conservatives - as a thank-you tour of sorts designed to close out a lengthy political career.
His party isn't exactly clamoring for his return.
In his first public comments in months, Romney used a Fox News interview to criticize President Barack Obama's leadership.
The former Massachusetts governor said Obama has been "flying around the country and berating Republicans and blaming and pointing" instead of preventing Washington's latest budget crisis.
In about two weeks, Romney is to deliver his first postelection speech, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
A few Republican governors who aggressively supported Romney's presidential bid last fall offered lukewarm responses in recent days to the question of Romney's future role in the GOP.
Conservative leaders suggest they're ready for a new era without a prominent Romney role.
"He has every right to be involved. And certainly he gave a lot for the cause," said Tim Phillips, president of the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity. "But most of the movement is wanting to look forward. They want to look forward to the next generation of leaders."
Without a public office or a prominent position in the private sector, Romney lacks a ready platform.
Before Romney, the previous two losing nominees, Republican John McCain in 2008 and Democrat John Kerry in 2004, eased their way back into national politics through the Senate seats they retained after the elections.
After his loss in 2000, former Vice President Al Gore appeared in a documentary film about climate change and became an outspoken advocate for environmental protections.
But almost immediately after his defeat, Romney retreated to the privacy of his California home. He surfaced in the national media in recent months only in photographs such as those showing him pumping gas, enjoying a day out with his family at Disneyland and shopping at Costco.
In his goodbye message to staffers at his Boston