(AP file photo)

Jan 30, 2015 10:36 AM

Paul Steinhauser: Romney says no to a 2016 White House run

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - There won't be a third time for Mitt Romney.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor announced Friday that "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."

"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. Accordingly, I'm not organizing a PAC or taking donations; I'm not hiring a campaign team," added Romney, on a call with top political advisers, donors and supporters.

Romney said he was "convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination. Our finance calls made it clear that we would have enough funding to be more than competitive. With few exceptions, our field political leadership is ready and enthusiastic about a new race. And the reaction of Republican voters across the country was both surprising and heartening. I know that early poll numbers move up and down a great deal during a campaign, but we would have no doubt started in a strong position."

Romney added that he was "convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been difficult test and a hard fight," adding that "I would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democrat nominee."

But Romney went on to say that "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."

NH1 has learned that within minutes of the call's conclusion, some leading Romney advisers in New Hampshire were getting calls and being courted by other potential GOP presidential hopefuls.

It was three weeks ago today that Romney, at a gathering in New York City, told a group of supporters and donors that he was seriously thinking of running for the White House again. A week later he gave a campaign-style speech to top GOP officials who were gathered in San Diego for the Republican National Committee's annual winter meeting. Wednesday, Romney sounded very much like a candidate as he criticized President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's all but certain to run again for the Democratic nomination, at a speech at Mississippi State University.

But there was skepticism and push back against Romney from some quarters of the GOP, with many critical of his trial balloon.

And Romney faced increased competition for Republican donors and campaign strategists from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, two other top center-right establishment contenders who are both taking concrete steps towards launching presidential campaigns. Thursday we learned that Romney's top political adviser in Iowa for his 2008 and 2012 presidential runs, David Kochel, will serve as national campaign manager for Bush if Bush officially throws his hat into the presidential ring.

While he's not running again, Romney made no secret of his desire to serve as president.

"I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president. 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," added Romney, on the call.

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