Paul Steinhauser: A third White House run for Mitt Romney?
CONCORD - Mitt Romney says he's considering another run for the White House.
NH1 confirmed that the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee made the comments to supporters and donors at a meeting in New York City Friday. Romney's comments were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Over much of the last year there's been some urging by some in the Republican establishment donor class for Romney to make a third bid for the GOP nomination. But much of that talk dissipated after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced last month that he was seriously considering a run for the White House. Bush has made overtures to many receptive GOP donors in recent weeks, and since the beginning of the year has taken concrete steps towards launching a campaign.
A source close to Romney says his comments on Friday are not in reaction to the recent moves by Bush and that any Romney decision on whether to run in 2016 will not be based on what other potential candidates are doing or saying.
Romney's new comments are a departure from what he's said publicly over the past year, repeatedly telling reporters that he was not interested in running again.
"You know I'm not going there. I've got nothing new to add on that topic. I'm not running, I'm not planning on running and that's all I got on that topic," Romney told NH1 in an October 15th interview in Hudson, New Hampshire, as he was joining then GOP Senate nominee Scott Brown on the campaign trail.
But Romney ended his answer to NH1 by slighting leaving the door open, saying "who knows what's going to happen down the road."
Spencer Zwick, a close Romney adviser and friend who was finance chairman of Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, told NH1 that the former Massachusetts governor "cares very deeply about this country."
"Mitt Romney's too much of a patriot to sit on the sidelines," Zwick added.
Thanks in part to strong name recognition, over the past year Romney's led a number of national and state polls of Republicans' choice for their party's 2016 presidential nominee. And if he were to eventually launch a campaign, his move would shake up the GOP field.
Tom Rath, a veteran New Hampshire Republican strategist who was a senior adviser to Romney in the state in the 2012 cycle, told NH1 that "as of now no one in NH has been told anything beyond the press report."
"Were Mitt to get in, and were we able to retain most of our folks from ‘12,he obviously would be in the upper tier of candidates in New Hampshire. And it would make New Hampshire even more important in '16 as the primary that would be most critical for the center/ right part of the field. If you had Mitt/Jeb/Christie all here and maybe Rubio as well it would be as contested and significant a primary as we have had.
But let's catch our breaths for a bit and see what actually happens," added Rath, a former state attorney general.
But Dave Carney, another veteran Granite State Republican consultant, said Romney may have a tough time if he runs again.
"Gov. Romney has a reservoir of good will in New Hampshire but he will need to fight for every vote. The class of competitors this time around are a class or two above the 2012 group of contenders," said Carney, who was a longtime adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but who appears to be neutral this cycle. "His first hurdle would be to explain how this campaign would be different then his last two failures."