Paul Steinhauser: Romney decision sooner rather than later
CONCORD - A couple of top political advisers to Mitt Romney say they think the 2012 Republican presidential nominee will decide "sooner rather than later" regarding a third run for the White House.
And if the former Massachusetts governor makes another presidential bid, Romney's telling advisers that winning New Hampshire "is key" to capturing the GOP nomination.
Veteran Granite State GOP consultant Tom Rath, who was a top adviser to Romney in 2012, tells NH1 that he believes Romney will decide "certainly in the first quarter, which would mean before the end of March. I think it may well come earlier than that just because of how fast everything is moving right now."
Another political adviser close to Romney, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, said he thinks a decision will come by Valentine's Day.
As for any Romney visit to New Hampshire, Rath said "I would be surprised, once the decision is made, that we didn't see him immediately. But it's tied to that. You can't come here at the moment and be uncertain. I think when he comes in here we'll know what his decision is."
Rath thinks he knows which way Romney will decide.
"I'm convinced that in the end he'll make a positive decision," Rath said.
Rath received a call from Romney over the weekend.
"He called Saturday morning and indicated he'd give this a good hard look, and I indicated that I didn't have to look very hard. If he was going to run I was going to be with him."
And he's not alone. The adviser close to Romney who remained anonymous said "senior Republicans in New Hampshire have expressed that if Gov. Romney's in, they'll be in with him."
Romney's moves the past couple of days follow his comments Friday in New York City, when he told a gathering of supporters and donors that he was "considering" another White House run.
New Hampshire primary crucial to Romney
Romney came in second to John McCain, the eventual GOP nominee, in the 2008 Granite State Republican primary. He grabbed 32% of the vote, with the senator from Arizona winning 38% of the vote. Four years later, Romney easily won in New Hampshire, taking 39% of the vote.
New Hampshire will once again be crucial to Romney if he runs for the 2016 nomination.
"One thing he was extremely clear on was how significant New Hampshire would be in any effort that he was going to make. He basically said New Hampshire is key to this whole nomination process," Rath said
"I think that New Hampshire is an organization state, beyond whatever the polling says, you gotta have the bodies who are out there putting up the signs and making phone calls, and boots on the ground as they say, and I think that we would have somewhat of an advantage here and we would be perceived as the front runner."
Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, said Romney has to win the primary.
"I think he has to win New Hampshire because he won it last time. I think he has to win it again. If he didn't, it would show that he was not the candidate he was three years ago, four years. So Mitt Romney needs to win New Hampshire again," Levesque said.
"I think with so many candidates and so many top name candidates, such as a Bush, a Romney, a Paul, in this race, New Hampshire's going to be more important than ever has been," he added.
What's next for Romney
Rath says Romney's continuing "to make phone calls to people, people that are close to him, and that he would look for their support going forward."
And Spencer Zwick, a close adviser and friend to Romney who was finance chairman of Romney's two presidential campaigns, told NH1 that Romney right now is spending his time "much more so on ‘does my message resonate and how can I deliver this message'."
Later this week Romney will attend the annual Republican National Committee winter meeting, which this year is being held in San Diego, near where Romney owns a home. A source close to Romney confirmed to NH1 that Romney would make brief open press remarks on Friday.