Mitt Romney said on Friday that he’s not running for president in 2016.
Romney’s announcement was made during a conference call with supporters. Minutes before the conference call media outlets began reporting that Romney wasn’t running for president.
“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 the conference call.
Romney’s announcement comes on the heels of massive speculation that he would try to run for president a third time. Romney said he thought he could win if he had decided to run.
“I also believe with the message of making the world safer, providing opportunity to every American regardless of the neighborhood they live in, and working to break the grip of poverty, I would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democrat nominee, but that is before the other contenders have had the opportunity to take their message to the voters,” Romney said.
Romney said it seemed unlikely that his mind could be changed.
“I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind,” Romney said. “That seems unlikely. Accordingly, I’m not organizing a PAC or taking donations; I’m not hiring a campaign team.”
On Wednesday Romney delivered a speech at Mississippi State University where he laid out what would likely be the main pillars of his 2016 presidential campaign: poverty and inequality, foreign policy, and economic mobility. Romney’s decision to speak at a university in one of the poorest states was no coincidence.
Romney in that speech dinged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who’s expected to announce her candidacy for president later in the year.
Romney’s announcement comes just a few weeks since he revealed to a group of donors that he was planning to run for president. Since then, Romney’s interest in a third run for president had been met with skepticism from some Republicans and conservative outlets like National Review and The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Rupert Murdoch also said that Romney was a “terrible” candidate.
More recently Romney had been vying with former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) over crucial parts of presidential campaign infrastructure. Some donors have been migrating away from Romney and toward Bush. David Kochel, who served as a top staffer for Romney, jumped ship and moved over to Bush’s camp. The New York Times, which first reported the Kochel news, said that if Bush does decide to run for president in 2016, Kochel would likely serve as campaign manager.
A Fox News poll released Thursday found Romney leading the rest of the field with 21 percent support followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 11 percent, Rand Paul with 11 percent, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 10 percent. None of the other roughly dozen candidates managed to get double digit support.
Shortly after Romney’s announcement, Bush said on Facebook that he thought Romney’s decision wasn’t easy.