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Mitt Romney Tells Donors He Is “Seriously Considering” Running For President In 2016

meh-romney

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mitt Romney, who has previously publicly demurred when asked about reports that he might run for President again in 2016, is now telling donors that he is seriously considering the possibility of a third Presidential bid, and that he still wants to be President of the United States:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney , the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, told a meeting of donors Friday that he is considering another White House bid in 2016, people present said.

The possibility of a third Romney bid could upend the emerging GOP field, coming as top Republican donors are starting to rally behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mr. Romney made the remarks during a session Friday afternoon with a few dozen top GOP donors in midtown Manhattan, according to people present.

The former Massachusetts governor didn’t give a timetable for making a decision about another White House run, but he cited unrest overseas as one of the reasons he’s considering another campaign. He also mentioned the long-term health of the economy.

Mr. Romney has sent mixed signals about his intent heading into 2016, repeatedly telling reporters that he isn’t interested in running again while also leaving some close confidants with the impression he might consider it, should other Republicans stumble.

His potential candidacy has been a topic of frequent speculation among donors and operatives as the field takes shape. Many major GOP donors have been waiting to see what Mr. Romney will do before committing to other Republicans who are taking more aggressive steps to launch White House candidacies.

(…)

At one point during the meeting, one of the attendees asked Mr. Romney if he wanted to be president, a person present said. The 2012 nominee said, yes, of course.

The idea of Mitt Romney running for the Republican nomination again isn’t a new one, of course. There has been speculation about such a bid from political pundits for the better part of the past year, and indeed stretching back into 2013, as well as numerous reports that many of the top level Republican donors and bundlers that were the backbone of Romney’s 2012 war chest were quietly hoping that Romney would run again, or at least that he would consider it if other “establishment” candidates such as Chris Christie and Jeb Bush started falling short in the face of challenges from a right wing of the GOP that is arguably stronger than it was at comparable times in either the 2008 or 2012 election cycles. Additionally, polling as recently as last month has shown Romney leading the Republican field both nationwide and in early primary states such as New Hampshire, although it is still quite easy to dismiss poll results like that as a matter of name recognition rather than actual support in a hypothetical campaign. Nonetheless, the rumors have persisted and, Romney’s response to the hypothetical has become less and less emphatic. In the beginning, he was firm in saying that he was not running for President, and the comments from his family were equally emphatic. Mitt Romney was done with politics, we were told, and most certainly done with running for office. Despite that, the rumors persisted and, more interestingly, Romney took an active role in the 2014 campaign with endorsements in races from Oregon to Iowa to New Hampshire, leading many to believe that, despite his protests, he was at least interested in remaining relevant inside the Republican Party. Slowly but surely, Romney’s responses to the hypothetical question about running for President became less and less emphatic and then, in September, we learned that Romney and his advisers were more seriously considering the possibility of entering the race if efforts by Chris Christie and/or Jeb Bush faltered. Now, we have this report, which seems clearly to have been leaked with Romney’s knowledge and permission. As implausible as it may have seemed when this all started, it now seems impossible to deny that Mitt Romney could indeed end up back on the ballot in 2016.

Given the fact that we’ve spent the last week or so dealing with the news that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush seems to be inching closer and closer to a 2016 bid, news such as this from the Romney camp is somewhat surprising. In previous reporting, it has always seemed as though the idea of a third Romney bid was seen as a fall back position should Bush decide not to run, or if his campaign were to falter. The same could also be said about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Indeed, the fact that all three of these men would essentially be appealing to the same voters and the same donors has made it seem unlikely that we’d see a race where all of them were involved given the fact that such a scenario poses the risk that they would fracture the “establishment” vote in the same manner than candidates like Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee would seem likely to fracture the Tea Party/hard right vote. That reason alone is why I remain skeptical that Romney would actually enter the race unless it became apparent that the Bush and/or Christie campaigns were in trouble, and that the donor class would not want to see the establishment/moderate vote divided in such a way since it would undercut the strategy Romney followed in 2012 to win the nomination, which is also the best path to a clear victory for any candidate in 2016. Leaking these comments, though, makes it seem as though Romney has started to think that he needs to get into the race regardless of what happens to Bush or Christie, and that could make for an interesting dilemma for top Republican donors if it comes to pass.

Update 1/10/2015: Two tweets from CNN’s Political Director David Chalian seem to be making this a bigger story:

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    The more the merrier. There is always ample room in the clown car.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  2. michael reynolds says:

    A sad, empty little man desperately seeking significance, unaware that the parade has moved on, unaware that he’s on the path to becoming a new Harold Stassen.

    On the plus side, it shoves a stick into Jeb’s spokes. While Hillary is banking 9 out of every 10 Democratic dollars, Jeb, Mitt, Rubio, Walker, Christie and more will be fighting over Koch and Adelson money, groveling for cash, then using that money to tear into each other over minute differences in policy.

    The fun thing will be guessing what Romney’s going to pretend to believe in this time. Look for him to decide ObamaCare really is RomneyCare, after all, and then take credit for the huge drop in the number of uninsured.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    GOLDWATER 2016!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. Gustopher says:

    He seems to be trying to craft an especially potent variety of Loser Stink.

    I mean, he has enough money that he doesn’t need wingnut welfare, and he has no real chance of winning, so what else could this be but some masochistic drive for humiliation? Is he secretly an issue candidate and we have just mailed to figure out what issue?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. Robin Cohen says:

    Romney didn’t really want to run the last time, or so his son says. Is Sheldon Adelson dumb enough to back Mitt AGAIN?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m not enthusiastic about another Romney run but he’s hardly Harold Stassen, who never came particularly close to the nomination. Romney came in a respectable second to John McCain for the nomination in 2008 and easily won it in 2012. That’s pretty impressive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. SC_Birdflyte says:

    If Mitt couldn’t win in 2012 on a platform of turning the economy around, what makes him think he can win if (as seems entirely possible), the economy in 2016 is booming? Would he promise to work on raising middle class incomes? Remedying gross inequalities in weath? Don’t think so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @James Joyner:
    People are also impressed by Dan Marino even though he never won a championship at any level.
    We always seem to have a soft spot for the “first loser”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  9. MBunge says:

    @C. Clavin: People are also impressed by Dan Marino even though he never won a championship at any level.

    Marino was a GREAT quarterback. Romney is an awful politician who is where he is politically almost entirely because of money and nothing else.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @MBunge:
    Marino sucked.
    He had a great arm. That was all.
    He never ever trusted the running game.
    And he wasn’t a leader.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  11. C. Clavin says:

    When Romney ran in ’12 he promised:

    I can’t possibly predict precisely what the unemployment rate would be at the end of one year. I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we put in place, we get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, or perhaps a little lower.

    Two years into Obamas second term it’s already at 5.6%.
    Clearly the right guy won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  12. al-Ameda says:

    He must be bored with his car elevator out at the La Jolla western non-White House. Maybe he can appeal to more than 47% this time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  13. argon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: GOLDWATER 2016!!!

    More like Dishwater 2016

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. anjin-san says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I still smile when I think of the Super Bowl buildup in ’84, when the media told us about a million times that Joe Montana & the 49ers did not have a chance against THE GREAT DAN MARINO…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  15. bill says:

    lot’s of “buyers remorse” still happening i guess? like it or not romney is/was more qualified to run things. obama’s experience might have made him a somewhat decent apprentice.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  16. Grumpy Realist says:

    @bill: speak for yourself. I’m quite happy with what president Obama has done so far. Do you really think Mr. 47% would have done better?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  17. anjin-san says:

    @bill:

    lot’s of “buyers remorse” still happening i guess

    Yes, the low unemployment rate, the Iraq war finally ended, stock market recovery, real estate recovery, plummeting deficit – why, oh why did I vote for Obama??

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  18. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: ” Look for him to decide ObamaCare really is RomneyCare, after all, and then take credit for the huge drop in the number of uninsured.”

    That’d be nice – it’d help with the popularity of Obamacare, and doom him utterly in the GOP primaries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @bill:
    Buyers remorse?
    That’s funny…the most productive and successful presidency in recent history…yes that makes me very remorseful.
    If Obama was a Republican you would already be carving his face on Rushmore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  20. Barry says:

    @bill: “lot’s of “buyers remorse” still happening i guess? like it or not romney is/was more qualified to run things. obama’s experience might have made him a somewhat decent apprentice.”

    Whistling past what has actually happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:
    You forgot to mention the fact that we still have an auto industry, and that six million people have health insurance that didn’t before, the lack of a recession despite trouble in virtually every other economy in the world, falling gas prices, Russia bleeding rubles and the absence of a major terrorist attack in the US.

    Yeah, it sucks that we elected this guy. If only we could go back to torture, invading irrelevant countries and then thoroughly f-cking up every aspect of the war, topped by the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Ah, the good old days before Obamacare resulted in everyone dying.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @bill:

    Yeah, Romney is a genius. Who was too incompetent to manage a decent election campaign and was effortlessly spanked by Mr. Obama and his team.

    You just live in a fantasy world, don’t you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  23. Paul Hooson says:

    The problem for Romney is that he’s nowhere the businessman, nor visionary, his father George Romney was. Mitt Romney’s two campaign efforts have been badly mismanaged efforts. His father was far better at delegating responsibility and was a pioneer in efforts to provide affordable housing to the poor through his efforts as HUD Secretary.

    As President,Romney would be even a weaker manager than Obama, and would focus on trivial issues like a war on pornography through his Justice Department and other social conservative issues to pander to his Mormon Church base. Romney’s father, George, would have been a far better president than his weak son in terms of a grasp of issues, measured with some social progress and compassion for the poor and disadvantaged.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  24. anjin-san says:

    @michael reynolds:

    All the GOP has left is blaming Obama for the terrorist attacks in France and thanking Mitch McConnell for the economic recovery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul Hooson:
    Yeah, I always liked George Romney. Of course that was back in the days when Republicans were sane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    Do you really think Mr. 47% would have done better?

    And if he does run, how is he ever going to get around that video?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  27. Kylopod says:

    He also mentioned the long-term health of the economy.

    Is everyone following his logic here? Last year and the year before that he kept telling reporters Hell would freeze over before he’d consider another run. And now, right as the economy is starting to show signs of a real recovery, that is when he changes his mind and decides the country desperately needs him? Is he on crack? Oh, I forgot, this is the same guy who didn’t bother to write a concession speech when even his own campaign’s internal polls didn’t show him winning. It’ll be fun hearing him talk about “the Obama recession” long after that meme has lost any potential it may have once had to resonate with the public. It’s just the sort of unskewed truth that will make the silent majority rise up yet again from its deep slumber.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Paul Hooson says:

    @michael reynolds: George Romney was a good man. A very compassionate visionary. – Strangely, although he was born to American Mormon parents living in a type of religious exile in Mexico, by the sake of being born in Mexico, he might technically be disqualified to have actually served as president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  29. Kylopod says:

    @Paul Hooson: Most constitutional scholars hold that if your parents were US citizens at the time of your birth, that makes you a “natural-born” citizen regardless of where you were born. This has been settled law for decades, and there have in fact been several presidential candidates not born in this country, though only one was actually nominated by a major party–John McCain. One of the ironies of the “birther” movement is that even if Obama was born in Kenya, it would make absolutely no difference to his eligibility to be president, because his mother was unquestionably a US citizen at the time of his birth. So the conspiracy theory, beyond being nuts, is also completely pointless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  30. Tony W says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    As President,Romney would be even a weaker manager than Obama

    After the GW Bush administration royally F’ed things up the competent and professional (if not flashy) management of the Obama administration has dispassionately put us back on track. Maybe you think that makes him a “weak” manager, but I appreciate that he simply lets the results speak for themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. Paul Hooson says:

    @Tony W: Whether it was the health care computer issues, or foreign policy. many Americans do no have a solid sense of ease that this administration are steady or competent managers. This may only be a vague or even largely groundless impression, but many Americans do not share a sense of ease about this administration’s abilities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  32. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “You just live in a fantasy world, don’t you?”

    Imagine having an imagination so bankrupt that when you choose to live in a fantasy world, all you can come up with is that Romney is a political and economic genius.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. wr says:

    @Paul Hooson: ” This may only be a vague or even largely groundless impression, but many Americans do not share a sense of ease about this administration’s abilities.”

    And we should all base our decisions on the vague or groundless impressions of people we’ve never met, because if we don’t then Americans might start paying attention to facts — and then where will people like you be?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  34. grumpy realist says:

    The reason I really don’t want Mitt Romney anywhere near the presidency is because he’s absolutely clueless about how business works. Growing actual businesses, rather than coming in with a leveraged-buyout takeover, than looting the pension funds for large salaries and simply declaring bankruptcy. “Asset stripping” indeed. What company did Mitt Romney leave in a better position after he managed it than before?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. Blue Galangal says:

    @wr:

    Jim Halpert: You’re not the manager? Even in your own fantasy?
    Dwight Schrute: I’m the owner. The co-owner. With Satan!
    Jim Halpert: Okay. Just so I understand it, in your wildest fantasy, you are in Hell, and you are co-running a bed-and-breakfast with the Devil.
    Dwight Schrute: Yeah, but I haven’t told you my salary yet.
    Jim Halpert: Go.
    Dwight Schrute: $80,000 a year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Barry says:

    @Paul Hooson: “…many Americans do no have a solid sense of ease that this administration are steady or competent managers. This may only be a vague or even largely groundless impression, but many Americans do not share a sense of ease about this administration’s abilities.”

    Blah, blah blah.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0