Rick Gorka, the former press secretary for Republican Mitt Romney during his recent presidential campaign, stopped by an Emerson class Thursday, February 21, in one of his first public speaking appearances since he quit the campaign after a media firestorm last summer.
Gorka, who has also worked for former Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker and the New Jersey Republican Party, said he now works for the Brian Communications public relations firm.
He’s made the decision to end his career in politics—for now.
“It’s very weird when it’s all over,” Gorka said. “You’re used to going 100 miles per hour and then all of a sudden you’re stopped.”
Gorka was criticized for losing his temper with reporters during a Romney campaign stop in Poland last July.
He’s since taken a vacation, bought a house in New Jersey and proposed to his girlfriend, Kristen Antonello.
Gorka said he’d also like to go back to school to finish getting his political science degree. He attended Pacific Lutheran and University of Nevada, and is only two semesters shy of a degree.
“It’s part of becoming readjusted to being a normal citizen again—finishing my degree,” he said.
On February 21, Gorka spoke to a political science class taught by part-time faculty member Alex Goldstein, a former press secretary for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
Patrick, a Democrat, ran against Baker, a Republican, in 2010. Goldstein and Gorka were both working as press secretaries for their respective candidates in that race.
“I consider [Goldstein] a friend, despite the fact that he beat me,” Gorka said.
“Rick was tremendously gracious with his time and insights for our class,” Goldstein said after the class ended. “There are only a handful of people in the country who have served in a role as intense as traveling national press secretary for a presidential nominee, and Rick’s candid reflections on his experiences were incredibly valuable.”
In an interview before the class began, Gorka said he was eager to share his campaign experiences and hoped Goldstein's students would ask questions about what it was like to work with presidential campaigns. Gorka also worked as a regional communications director for Republican John McCain when he ran for president in 2008.
“I have really fond memories,” Gorka said. “I mean, even with the reporters who I had a real hard time with, the election is over and that part just kind of fades away.”
Gorka said he would “never say never” about going back into politics. But for now, he’s looking forward to new experiences and finishing his degree. He plans to stay in public relations and stay out of politics.
“New job, new home, wedding,” Gorka said. “I’m just trying to get through this year.”