Mitt Romney Will Not Run in 2016

The former candidate announced his decision to supporters on a conference call this morning.

National Journal
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Rebecca Nelson
Jan. 30, 2015, 4:19 a.m.

Mitt Rom­ney has of­fi­cially an­nounced that he will not be run­ning for pres­id­ent. The state­ment came on a con­fer­ence call with sup­port­ers and re­port­ers Fri­day morn­ing.

“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,” he said.

Rom­ney says that it is “un­likely” that he’ll change his mind, and he will tell sup­port­ers that he is not or­gan­iz­ing a PAC, tak­ing dona­tions or hir­ing a cam­paign team. The news of his de­cision was first re­por­ted by ra­dio-show host Hugh He­witt.

In an ap­par­ent jab at former Flor­ida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is 61, Rom­ney em­phas­ized the need for a fresh face for the GOP.

“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,” he told sup­port­ers on the call. “In fact, I ex­pect and hope that to be the case.”

In a state­ment pos­ted on Face­book shortly after Rom­ney’s an­nounce­ment, Bush wished his would-be rival the best.

“Though I’m sure today’s de­cision was not easy, I know that Mitt Rom­ney will nev­er stop ad­voc­at­ing for re­new­ing Amer­ica’s prom­ise through up­ward mo­bil­ity, en­cour­aging free en­ter­prise and strength­en­ing our na­tion­al de­fense,” he wrote. “Mitt is a pat­ri­ot and I join many in hop­ing his days of serving our na­tion and our party are not over. I look for­ward to work­ing with him to en­sure all Amer­ic­ans have a chance to rise up.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Times, as the de­cision spread among donors be­fore the call Fri­day, donors began call­ing oth­er es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ates, such as New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, to lend their sup­port. Rom­ney is sched­uled to have din­ner with Christie Fri­day even­ing, the Times re­ports.

In a brief email, which went out to sup­port­ers late Thursday night, Rom­ney an­nounced his “up­date” call and in­cluded de­tails of how to call in. It was a busy morn­ing for Rom­ney­World: The call came after he con­vened a sep­ar­ate con­fer­ence call with an in­side circle of ad­visers and aides, ac­cord­ing to ABC News.

On Thursday, Rom­ney lost an im­port­ant mem­ber of his cam­paign ma­chine: Dav­id Kochel, an Iowa strategist who worked for the former gov­ernor for his cam­paigns in 2008 and 2012. Kochel will be a seni­or strategist for Bush’s new polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee, Right to Rise.

Since the former Flor­ida gov­ernor’s Decem­ber an­nounce­ment that he will “act­ively ex­plore” his own 2016 bid, the two have been in a battle for es­tab­lish­ment donors and sup­port. Kochel’s de­fec­tion is a blow for Rom­ney, and may have been the cata­lyst for the call.

Part of Rom­ney’s push for­ward had been his be­lief, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg, that oth­er es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ates — Bush, Christie and Flor­ida Sen. Marco Ru­bio — aren’t up to snuff. But his Fri­day re­marks in­dic­ate that he thinks his pres­ence in the race would be more dam­aging to his goal of elect­ing “a con­ser­vat­ive lead­er to be­come our next pres­id­ent.”

“You know that I have wanted to be that pres­id­ent,” he said. “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.”

News of the 2016 shakeup didn’t es­cape the Demo­crat­ic Caucus’ re­treat in Phil­adelphia, which con­vened earli­er this week. In a lead­er­ship press con­fer­ence Fri­day af­ter­noon, House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi spec­u­lated that Rom­ney wouldn’t have a chance against the Demo­crats in 2016. But she also had kind words for the former gov­ernor, call­ing him a “won­der­ful Amer­ic­an” with a “lovely fam­ily.”

“He prob­ably con­cluded the pro­spect of suc­cess was not there,” Pelosi said. “He’s served our coun­try in many ways. I don’t want to make a joke of his can­did­acy.”

Even if he isn’t run­ning, Rom­ney had been per­form­ing well in early polling. He is cur­rently lead­ing all of his pos­sible GOP rivals, ac­cord­ing to the latest polls. In a Thursday Fox News poll, Rom­ney tops the rest of the GOP field with 21 per­cent sup­port among self-iden­ti­fied Re­pub­lic­ans. Bush ranks fourth with 10 per­cent sup­port.

This story has been up­dated to re­flect news from Rom­ney’s com­ments, and for ad­di­tion­al re­port­ing and con­text.

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