Mitt Romney Says He Won't Run for President Again
Former presidential nominee Mitt Romney told supporters on Friday that he was not making a third run at the White House, putting an end to weeks of what appeared to be possible preparation for such a bid.
“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” Romney said in a statement to supporters.
The statement was released just before a conference call with close advisers and donors. Audio of Romney reading the statement was broadcast at the top of the call.
With 22 months to go until the election, one of the biggest questions of the cycle has been answered: will he do it again? Romney’s decision to stay on the sidelines created space for other candidates, and positioned Romney as one of the Republican party’s top arbiters of who will fill that space.
Romney said he was not preparing to run because a member of “our next generation of Republican leaders” would have a better chance at winning.
“I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case,” Romney said in the statement.
Romney said if he had decided to run he would have had a shot at winning. “I am convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination,” he said. “Our finance calls made it clear that we would have enough funding to be more than competitive.”
“You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country. But we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation.
“I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind. That seems unlikely.”
Romney has built substantial national name recognition by running for president twice. In 2012, he won the Republican presidential nomination but went on to lose the general election by 126 electoral votes.
The election is nearly two years away, but an aggressive competition for staff and dollars has already begun. His top Iowa advisor in the last two cycles, David Kochel, was said on Friday to have defected to the likely Jeb Bush campaign.
The initial Republican presidential primary field, with at least 14 candidates, looks to be the largest such field in modern electoral history.
Speculation about another Romney run intensified after a 9 January meeting in New York in which Romney told about 30 potential big-ticket donors that “I want to be president.” Two weeks ago he delivered an address at the winter meeting of the Republican national committee in San Diego.
Last week, Romney met with Jeb Bush to talk about the next election cycle, in what was originally planned as a courtesy call for Bush to check in with the party’s former nominee. The activity led the White House press secretary to joke that the former Massachusetts governor appeared to be “getting the band back together”.
At an appearance in Mississippi on Wednesday, he directly challenged Hillary Clinton and addressed the future.
“I’m thinking about how I can help the country,” Romney said.
Romney even has laid out the makings of a political platform, calling for a renewed focus on “income inequality” in his speech to the Republican committee.
“Under President Obama, the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty than ever before,” said Romney, whose personal fortune has been estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars and who has been criticized for not releasing tax documents that would rebut the charge advanced by Democrats that he does not substantively pay them.
A Townhall/Gravis survey of registered Iowa Republicans taken over 5-7 January had Romney coming in first, with 21%, edging “uncertain”, with 18%. Third was Bush, the former Florida governor, with 14%.
Romney went into election night 2012 believing he would win based on internal campaign polling showing him taking the swing states of North Carolina, Florida and Virginia. They were right about North Carolina.
An email notifying supporters of the Friday call was signed “All the best, Mitt.”