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Mitt Romney Opts Out of Third Presidential Bid in 2016

January 29, 2015 - 6:00pm

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., announced to supporters on Friday that he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination for a third time. Romney was the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 who lost to President Barack Obama.

Conservative pundit and radio show host Hugh Hewitt received a copy of what Romney told supporters on Friday. Romney insisted that he could win the nomination but decided against a third bid.

After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, Ive decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee," Romney said. I am 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. One poll out just today shows me gaining support and leading the next closest contender by nearly 2:1. I also am leading in all of the four early states. So I am convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been a difficult test and a hard fight

"I also believe with the message of making the world safer, providing opportunity to every American regardless of the neighborhood they live in, and working to break the grip of poverty, I would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democrat nominee, but that is before the other contenders have had the opportunity to take their message to the voters, Romney added. 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."

Romney said he would not form a PAC or any type of political committee but he will remain active and will help Republicans attempt to reclaim the White House in 2016.

After coming up short to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2008, Romney never stropped running and was the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Despite losing to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in the Iowa caucus and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., in the South Carolina primary, Romney held on to win the Republican nomination with big wins in the New Hampshire and Florida primaries.

But, despite a strong performance in the first debate, Romney came up short in the general election, only taking Indiana and North Carolina out of Obamas column from 2008. Despite high expectations, Romney carried 47 percent of the popular vote, 4 percent behind Obama. Romney carried 206 Electoral College votes, far from the 270 needed to win. Romney failed to carry Massachusetts, where he had been governor, Michigan -- where his father, former Gov. George Romney, R-Mich., launched his national political career -- and Wisconsin, home state to his running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Romneys name started generating buzz as a possible candidate in recent weeks and polls have shown him up ahead of the rest of the field. But former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., announced in December that he was exploring running and a number of key Republicans who had backed Romney in the past were starting to get behind the former Florida governor. In recent days, David Kochel, Romneys top man in Iowa in 2008 and 2012, announced he was going to work for Bush in 2016.

But despite Bush declaring earlier this month, Romney might not be ready to back him in 2016. Bloomberg reported on Friday that Romney has major concerns about Bushs time as governor and his lack of help for his 2012 campaign. The New York Times reported on Friday that Romney is set to meet with another possible 2016 contender fighting for the same backing as Bush: Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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