Mitt Romney to Announce 2016 Plans Today

Mitt Romney is set to make an announcement at 11 Eastern today. [UPDATE: He's out!]


After weeks of signaling another run for the presidency, Mitt Romney is set to make an announcement at 11 Eastern today. He’s almost certainly in.

AP (“Reports: Romney To Announce He’s Running For President In 2016“):

Mitt Romney will reportedly be running for president for a third time.

Bloomberg and The Daily Beast report that Romney, who lost the 2012 election to President Barack Obama, will announce his intention to run in 2016 during a call with donors Friday morning.

CNN reports that Romney will make an announcement at 11 a.m. ET.

A recent CBS News poll found that 59 percent of Republicans nationwide want to see Romney run for president again.

His announcement comes as several major donors who supported him in the past and a veteran Iowa staffer defected to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The donors, in interviews with The Associated Press, said they see in Bush what they liked about Romney in 2012, the capacity to serve successfully as president, but also something Romney could not muster over two campaigns: the personality and senior staff needed to win the White House.

“I’ve got great respect for Gov. Romney, and I busted my buns for him,” said Chicago investor Craig Duchossois, whose wife contributed $250,000 to a pro-Romney super PAC while he collected tens of thousands more for Romney’s last campaign. “But I have turned the page.”

And that’s “Why Mitt Romney Has to Make Up His Mind Now,” according  Chuck Todd and company:

No one knows for sure what Romney will announce, but the hunch coming from Romney World is that the former Massachusetts governor is going to give it another try. But here’s why Romney has to make up his mind now: The ground underneath his feet is already beginning to crumble. Just yesterday, we learned that Romney’s top Iowa strategist in 2008 and 2012 — David Kochel — is set to be Jeb Bush’s campaign manager. We also learned, via the AP, that some of Romney’s past donors are jumping aboard the Jeb Train. And get this: We can tell you that folks whom Romney has INVITED on this call are already planning to work for Bush. (Remember, a lot of these people have been connected to the Bush World longer than to Romney.) So if Romney is going to do this, he needs to make a clear statement ASAP (and don’t be surprised if it comes in the form of a PAC or other committee). It’s not too dissimilar for what Jeb had to do a couple of months ago: convince skeptical politicos and donors that you’re actually in the race.

 From 2012 GOP nominee to “even footing” at best

When it comes to Romney possibly losing former advisers and donors to rivals, keep this in mind: Romney is going from being the GOP’s general-election nominee — with most of the party fully behind him — to someone who’s making a THIRD primary run. So you’re bound to have these kinds of defections. As political scientist Jonathan Bernstein puts it, “The best case for [Romney] at this point is that he’s on more or less even footing with several other candidates.” Now, you can certainly win your party’s presidential nomination on even footing. But Romney also won’t be as strong right now as he was in the summer/fall of 2012 — it’s just a fact.

Measuring Romney vs. Jeb

By the way, here are Romney’s and Bush’s fav/unfav from our most recent (Jan. 2015) NBC/WSJ poll:

  • Overall for Romney: 27% positive, 40% negative
  • Overall for Bush: 19% positive, 32% negative
  • Among Republicans for Romney: 52% positive, 15% negative
  • Among Republicans for Bush: 37% positive, 15% negative

Bottom line: Both men are unpopular overall (and have actually lost ground since our previous polling); Romney is more popular than Bush among Republicans; but Bush also has more room to grow.

Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin explains “Why Mitt Romney Thinks He Can Win (and Jeb Bush Can’t).”

According to people familiar with the thinking of the two-time presidential candidate, Romney has now gathered all the information he needs to reach a conclusion about whether to run a third time. Late Thursday evening, Romney’s political operation sent scores of supporters an email under his name inviting them to join a Friday morning conference call to be led by Romney himself for “an update.” The email was signed “All the best, Mitt.”

Those who have been helping Romney make up his mind say there are three factors in favor of a run, and two factors against. The main rationale on the “go” side is Mitt and Ann Romney’s strongly held conviction that no one in the current field would make a better president. Critics in both parties and the press may scoff at this view, but the Romneys believe it to their core and thus feel Mitt has an obligation to his country to once again shoulder the mantle. Following his crushing defeat in 2012, Romney has deemed Obama’s second term an utter failure, particularly on issues of national security and the domestic economy. Furthermore, those in Romney’s orbit are convinced that Mitt is not just best qualified, but almost uniquely qualified to turn around the nation and help guide the world to safer pastures. The Romneys consider this assessment a clear-eyed, rational analysis of his skills as a manager and a leader, augmented by the sense of duty he was raised with in the Mormon faith.

The second factor driving Romney towards another run, say those familiar with his thinking, is a host of emphatically encouraging poll results. There is ample public polling that suggests leads in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, as well as nationally. But Romney also has been briefed on what one Republican source describes as a massive, rolling private polling project recently conducted by a wealthy GOP contributor who shelled out his own money to determine which Republican has the best chance of winning the nomination.

The data, collected over an extended period of time in the first twenty states scheduled to hold caucuses and primaries in 2016, shows Romney with a huge lead across the board, and significantly better favorable/unfavorable ratings than the rest of the large potential field. The other prospects who fare well in the research are Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Maryland physician Ben Carson. The source says that after Romney publically expressed an interest in seeking the nomination, his standing in the polls improved. Romney World discounts the notion that these leads are based simply on name recognition.

Also pressing Romney forward: the sense that he can perform better in 2016 than he did in 2008 and 2012. Romney believes that if he can convince just a few more voters that he “cares about people” like them he will hold the electoral votes he won last time, while capturing additional states such as Florida, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and perhaps others. Some members of his 2012 inner circle criticized his decision to remain modest about his decades of work as a lay minister in the Mormon Church, brushing aside scads of earnest testimony from those whose lives he improved through service and charity. In the last campaign, that portrait was briefly sketched on the final day of the nominating convention in Tampa, only to be overwhelmed by the madcap appearance of Clint Eastwood, and further scarred by relentless efforts of the Obama team and its allies to portray Romney as heartless and out of touch with ordinary Americans. This cycle, Romney’s history of ardent community service would be placed front and center.

Nevertheless, the opposite side of the 2016 balance sheet contains some grim realities. The Romney clan is only too aware of the toll a presidential run would take, with physical, emotional, and psychic stresses barreling down directly upon Mitt and Ann and spilling onto  family and friends around the country. While to the Romneys the call to service rings loud and true, the prospect is daunting to the entire family.

The second “no go” reason appears to weigh far more heavily on Romney.  People close to the former governor say he believes he would beat Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup if the election were held today. But, like many election watchers, Romney anticipates a vicious Republican nomination fight that will damage and deplete the ultimate winner, while Clinton, virtually unchallenged for her party’s nomination, will be luxuriantly free to squirrel away hundreds of millions of election dollars and step into the general arena, rich and refreshed, against a shattered GOP nominee.

Putting aside, for the moment, the singular Democratic threat, Romney and his core team profess a steadfast optimism that he would become the Republican nominee if he chooses to make the race. His candid assessments of the GOP field, according to a source, are crisp, considered, and rather bleak. He singles out two men, both Ohioans, as strong presidential material: Governor John Kasich, who is said to be no fan of Romney as a politician, and Senator Rob Portman, who grew close to Romney as an adviser in the 2012 campaign, when he played the part of Obama in debate prep sessions.  But Portman has already said he’s running for re-election to the Senate and will forgo a presidential bid, while Kasich has merely winked in the direction of 2016.

Perhaps most surprising is Romney’s assessment of the major establishment figures who are lining up at the starting gate: Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Public comments from both Mitt and Ann Romney have suggested that the Romneys thought Jeb would make a strong candidate and an able president—and that his presence in the contest would remove any obligation Romney felt to seek the office himself.

But those familiar with Romney’s thinking now and over the years say that he has held a jaundiced view of the former Florida governor dating all the way back to his handling of the Terri Schiavo case, and has come to see Bush as a non-entity in the 2016 nomination contest. Romney is said to see Bush as a small-time businessman whose financial transactions would nonetheless be fodder for the Democrats and as terminally weighed down with voters across the board based on his family name. Romney also doesn’t think much of Bush’s political skills (a view mocked by Bush’s camp, who say Romney is nowhere near Bush’s league as a campaigner).  Romney also considers Bush the national Republican figure who was the least helpful to him during his last run for the White House, a position that has darkened Ann Romney’s view of Bush as well.

Romney and Christie became friends in the last cycle, but Romney nevertheless has dismissed his pal as a non-factor. Thanks to the 2012 veep vetting process, Romney is intimately familiar with some of the less publicized controversies from the New Jersey governor’s past, and believes that several of those flaps would mushroom so broadly that Christie  soon would be eliminated from consideration by voters and donors.

The early polling is mostly meaningless. It’s all name recognition at this point and Romney is easily the best known potential Republican candidate. One presumes he’ll run again because, really, that’s what he does and he does genuinely seem to believe it’s his destiny to be president. But it’s been a mighty long time since a party re-nominated a loser (the GOP did it with Nixon in 1968, eight years after his narrow loss to Kennedy in 1960. The Democrats ran Adlai Stevenson against Ike in 1952 and 1956; with the outcome certain, there wasn’t much downside).  Al Gore would have been a likely contender in 2004 given the disputed nature of the 2000 contest. But Romney got drubbed and ran an awful campaign. Why the nominating electorate would give him a second shot escapes me.

That said, I haven’t the slightest clue who would beat him.

Jeb Bush has been out of the limelight a long time now. His biggest asset is that he’s generally thought of as competent and reasonable. His biggest liability is that his last name is “Bush.”

Christie is simply too abrasive to survive a national run, especially in a contest where schmoozing people in Iowa and New Hampshire takes up the first year. Nor is there any obvious upside to him over Romney or Bush.

Kasich is competent but bland and has given no indication of fire in the belly. Walker is a virtual unknown nationally aside from the much-ballyhooed showdown with the teachers’ union; I don’t see how that propels him to the nomination.

I don’t think any of the more extreme candidates—Cruz, Huckabee, Rubio, Jindal, etc.—have a shot.

UPDATE:  He’s out!

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tony W says:

    So…2012 redux…

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Remains to be seen but, although he was clearly the best Republicans had to offer in 2012, will that be the obvious situation this time around? I would think that the GOP would want to go in a new non-let-them-eat-cake direction – Rand Paul, Scott Walker?

    I believe the bigger news is that he’s probably selling his western non-White House residence, the one with the car elevator.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Jeb Bush has been out of the limelight a long time now. His biggest asset is that he’s generally thought of as competent and reasonable.

    I’m Smarter Than My Brother – Jeb ’16

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Mitt is suddenly very concerned about poverty.
    How much do you want to bet that his solutions are the same as he ran on last time…tax cuts and eliminating regulations.
    Republicans have one solution for everything…no matter the circumstance.

  5. Blue Galangal says:

    Upon seeing the headline, my only response was LOL.

  6. John D'Geek says:

    Sooo …. you’re basically agreeing with Romney’s logic?

    I can see that. Chris Christie is way too New Jersey to survive nationally. Jeb Bush … is Jeb Bush. He won’t be elected. The rest are either unwilling or worse than Bush. Who’s left on the Republican side that can run a real race against Hillary?

    Granted: I’m assuming that the Republican Party actually wants to win …

    Re: name recognition: not sure I agree with that, at least on the Romney v. Bush lines. I think that, like “Clinton”, most people have heard the name “Bush” and have an idea about how they feel about it. Be worth a survey though.

  7. pylon says:

    “Romney ’16: This time I really really mean it”

  8. Franklin says:

    Third time’s the charm?

  9. Pinky says:

    Big news – he’s out. I have to admit, Doug, I never expected it to go as far as it did. I scoffed at you for treating Romney as a story at all, but you were right.

  10. PJ says:

    So, he’s going to have the car elevator demolished then?

  11. John D'Geek says:

    Update to my reply: now that he’s out, I seriously wonder who is actually going to run. I mean, and have a chance of winning …

  12. C. Clavin says:

    The Clown Car just got lighter….oh, wait…forgot about Christie…never mind.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    So now that Romney did his little fan dance and got the media and the pundits all excited about his possible running, he decides to jump out of the plane?

    Sounds to me like the whole thing was a trial balloon. Romney was trying to see if there was enough oomph for his rebooting attempt to work.

    As it is, we’re seeing New Coke redux.

  14. Will Taylor says:

    @grumpy realist:

    i think he expected more of the big $$ to be there for him. In the last week, various stories have come out that Wall Street and Murdoch were against him. It would have been a difficult primary without that kind of support. I think the obvious winners are Bush & Rubio, but I think Walker is certainly creating a lot of buzz and should not be underestimated.

    i pay no attention to Santorum, Cruz or Paul as they have zero chance. i also don’t see where Christie is going to get support from. It’s hard to see him even making an impact .

  15. Pinky says:

    It’s a staple on this site to talk about candidates as grifters, and accuse people of running for office in order to increase their book sales. My guess is, if people keep telling you that you should run for office, it gets into your head. Maybe there are some issues you’d like to work on, or you’re just unimpressed by the other candidates, and it starts to sound reasonable. People are rarely so cold and calculating as to look at polls and projections of donations and make a decision based on thresholds. Mitt was getting a lot of buzz, but his heart was never in it, and he realized it.

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist: given the downvoting on my comment, I guess my analysis hit just a wee bit too close to home for some people…

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @Will Taylor: I have no idea about Rubio. Several of the commentators over at TAC indicate they consider him a wet fish of a candidate, mainly because of the whole immigration thing. How do you analyze his chances, or is it more a case of his not having some of the problems other candidates have?

    Also considering the fanbois out there, I’m surprised that you put Paul’s chances so low. I would think that from an enthusiasm viewpoint, he could catch fire. Or are you handicapping him because he doesn’t seem to be hooked into the Big Money Machine? Does anyone think that Paul could possibly get assistance from the Commerce Republicans who aren’t neocons? (If I had a Hillary Clinton pronouncing a desire to declare war on Iran vs. a Rand Paul who said no way in the hell no, I’d vote for Rand. )

  18. Will Taylor says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m kind of neutral on Rubio. On paper he seems to be an ideal candidate. He’s not a polarizing figure and there is no significant opposition to his candidacy. i do though have concerns on how he’d hold up under a national campaign under the media spotlight. He also may decide to take a left turn on immigration which may make him a more viable contender. the biggest thing about Rubio now is that he is attracting big money which automatically makes him a contender.

    As for Rand Paul, I just think he is well a lying scumbag who really is not that much different from his daddy. HE doesn’t have the money or even the grass roots support the media would lead you to believe he has. there’s also that tricky issue of him giving up his precious Senate seat to get on the ballot. There’s just something creepy about him that rubs me the wrong way.
    I don’t buy into any of his populist bullshit.

    And btw, i didn’t downvote you. You are one of the few on the other side i can have a civil discussion with. You may have also inferred that i don’t care too much about popularity points on here.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Will Taylor: Ah, but regardless of what YOU think of Rand, my question is what do OTHER people think of Rand? Does he have the support to pull anything off? I guess you’re saying you don’t see him having the structure or the backing, even if he has a bunch of fanbois touting Rand as being Libertarian.

    He does seem to be one of the few candidates who has dug in his heels against the neocons, which is why I made the Rand vs. a-pro-Iran-war-Hillary comment. I’m afraid we’ll probably get BOTH sides (whoever wins the nomination) stampede into being pro-Iran-war, which really sucks. No matter what else one thinks about Obama, at least he has not allowed the neocons to shove him towards a war with Iran.

    (A war with Iran would be incredibly stupid. Iran just has to put a few mines in the Straits of Hormuz and we’re suddenly looking at $200/bbl oil prices. Even if we get around that over time, that sort of price spike isn’t good for anyone’s economy. I can’t imagine what John McCain is thinking. Or smoking, for that matter.)

  20. Will Taylor says:

    @grumpy realist:

    i think Rand Paul believes in issues where there is opportunity to attract votes. There’s as much support for Rand Paul and there is for Elizabeth Warren. You have a bunch of folks on each side making noise trying to create a story here. There’s no real big grass movement for Warren. She’s a prop by the left to keep Hillary in check. If you go over to a place like Breitbart, you would think that Rand Paul is a 3:1 favorite to win the presidency. These Paul and Warren folks live in a fantasyland where their delusions would be easily crushed in a real election.

    As for Iran, I don’t think anyone really has the appetite for a war with them. People on the left also forget that Dick Cheney didn’t go to war with Iran either when pretty much every pundit around that time thought that we would. IF we were going to go to war with Iran, it likely would have happened under that administration. I’ve read that 2003 was actually the golden opportunity with Iran. The mullahs were actually pretty alarmed of how quickly Saddam fell and were worried that they were next. The mistake then was not engaging in diplomacy with them and instead alienating them further with the infamous Axis of Evil.

    i also think tif Iran actually did use mines or closed off the Straights of Hormuz they would also have an angry China to deal with. They are just as or more dependent on foreign oil as the United States. I think they are the real wildcard in the Middle East that is not often factored in these scenarios.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    @Will Taylor: That’s an interesting point about China. I’ve spent a sizable part of my life in Japan and know pretty well what Japan would do in such a case (nothing) , but hadn’t thought about China. And the mullahs are far too intelligent to pick a fight they know they wouldn’t be able to win. I can just see China sending a anti-mining ship lickety-split to clear up matters….

    (Do you realize we have between us come up with the plot of the next Tom Clancy-ish blockbuster? Add several pages of weapon specifications and we’re all set. I’ll split the royalties with you!)

  22. Will Taylor says:

    @grumpy realist:

    That’s pretty cool that you lived in Japan. i like the Japanese a lot and have a lot of respect for the country as well as the folks I’ve met. the chinese not as much as I have more trust issues with them.

    A novel sounds like a great idea. I’ll see what i can come up on my end before I get pretty hammered on Sunday rooting for Seattle.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @Will Taylor: Have fun watching the Superbowl–I’m going to be studying for the Bar. (ugh.)

    What really has come across to me as a very big difference between Japan and China is that although both look from the outside to be top-managed “democracies”, the actuality is very difference. Japan is probably the closest thing to a communistic society we will ever see (and certainly far more than the USSR ever was)–group harmony is baked into the bones of the place. Which leads to such odd ideosyncracies as decisions being made out of this “coalescence”–quite often from reports from NGOs and other such organizations, which then get passed up and down the chain until everyone gets a chance to tweak policy. Then it gets officially voted on and stamped as being The Rules. At which point the rules almost instantaneously get promulgated down to the very base, and boom, that’s that. It was really fascinating watching how the system co-opted and found a use for people like me, who were the gaijin. We were like the jesters in a medieval court. We were the ones who were expected to point out that the emperor had no clothes, or suggest alternatives, or coming up with the original suggestion. Since we had no face to lose, we had remarkable freedom to wander throughout the system and poke things–just as long as we realized that we would never be ever quite accepted.

    China, on the other hand, has a supposedly strong government which covers an incredibly free-floating Wild West. Government wants something passed? Great. Now get any of the regional governments or city mayors to actually carry it out. They will if they feel like it. Or if it helps them get power. Or because they want to exchange favors. But because they’re underneath it and part of the government? Not really…..

  24. Will Taylor says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’ve never heard that description of Japanese society before and I’m kind of intrigued. I may read up more on this.

    Good luck with the bar! I wouldn’t advise being a lawyer unless you really feel passionate about it, but who am i to discourage anyone from pursuing their goals.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Will Taylor: Just wait until you see Japanese engineering practices, which are somewhat along the lines of “run around on the Titanic rearranging deckchairs until you’re just about to hit the iceberg, then pull all-nighters until the problem is solved.” There’s a reason why they’re so strict on deadlines–otherwise nothing would ever get done.

    The system is absolutely loopy when it comes to lines of demarcation. For years, the Japanese space agencies split up the responsibility for fuel: one agency handled all systems involving the LOX, another–totally different agency–dealt with the systems for the liquid hydrogen. And let’s not get involved with the contortions we had to go through for communication signals on the roads for the Ministry of Transport vs. Ministry of Police. The former? Microwave. Latter? IR. (As a physicist, I was pulling my hair out.)

    Oh, and let’s not get into the 50Hz vs. 60 Hz demarcation line for electronics that slices halfway across the country…..

  26. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pinky: His heart may not have been in it, but his ego certainly was. I accept at full face value the report I read that he’s convinced that he would win and wanted to go out as a winner and not someone “forced” out.

    In the dark night of his soul, he knows that he isn’t all that inevitable and can’t bear the possibility of going into history as the modern-day William Jennings Bryan (or a clone of his father, either). For his ego, he’s going out as a winner–it’s the country’s loss, not his.