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Oct 19, 2014 2:03 PM

Paul Steinhauser: Romney tops poll he doesn't want be in

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - The man at the top of the latest poll in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination says he's not running for the White House.

Mitt Romney stands above a list of potential GOP presidential contenders in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

But in an interview Wednesday with NH1, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee shot down talk of making a third bid for the White House.

"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," the former Massachusetts governor told NH1.

But moments later he kept the door open ever so slightly, saying "who knows what's going to happen down the road but we've got good people and I'm going to be watching this race and hopefully encouraging these candidates to take positons that will really help the American people."

Romney made his comments in Hudson, after he joined New Hampshire Republican Senate nominee Scott Brown at a rally at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating. Romney held a rally at the plant during his 2012 presidential bid, and the owner of the company appeared in a Romney campaign commercial.

Romney tops another 2016 poll

According to the poll, which was released Sunday, 21% of Republicans or independents who lean towards the GOP said they would support Romney as their party's 2016 nominee. That's almost double the 11% who back the second place finisher in the survey, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is considering a White House run.

Romney obviously benefits from the fact that there's no frontrunner or candidate who stands out among the wide open and unsettled field of potential contenders for the GOP nomination. And Romney is enjoying a political renaissance as President Barack Obama, who beat Romney in the 2012 election, has been relentlessly criticized since last year for his handling of a host of domestic and international issues. A bit of "buyer's remorse" with voters makes Romney look a lot better than he did two years ago.

In New Hampshire, two surveys conducted over the summer (WMUR/Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire and a Suffolk University/Boston Herald survey) indicated that that Romney would be the overwhelming front runner in the first-in-the-nation primary state if he decided to run again.

The first poll to spark the Romney 2016 flames was an ABC News/Washington Post national survey released last November that suggested that if the 2012 presidential election between Romney and President Barack Obama were held today, Romney would hold a slight lead in the popular vote. Obama won the popular vote in the 2012 contest by a 51%-47% margin.

GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who served as a senior adviser in Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, said that "the interest is driven by those who believe, very deeply, that he would have been a very effective president and that he has been proven right on so many issues and ideas that he advanced in the 2012 campaign."

"But conceptual candidacies are very enticing, almost irresistible. Actual candidacies are cold, hard realities. There's a universe of differences between the two," added Madden.

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