Two-time failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not throwing his hat in the ring for a third time. No binders full of women jokes this election cycle.
Mitt Romney released a statement to his supporters: “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.”
“I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. 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.” – Hugh Hewitt Show
This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.
Maria Dryfhout / Shutterstock.com
UPDATE: This is a big political story so it’ll be updated throughout the day.
Ace political reporter Mark Halperin in Politico gives these among the reasons Romney didn’t run:
The Romney clan was 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 rang loud and true, the prospect was daunting to the entire family.
The second “no go” reason weighed far more heavily on Romney—and was likely the dispositive one. People close to the former governor say he believed 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.
And, according to Halperin, this doesn’t mean Romney wants Jeb Bush:
But those familiar with Romney’s thinking as he’s been contemplating a run 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.
Let no one say that Mitt Romney left the political stage gracefully or with even a shred of dignity left. The best you can say is that he somehow mustered the self-awareness to avoid even further indignities. He will not run for the presidency a third time, which pretty much hands the reins to Jeb, if Jeb can somehow ride the bucking clown car all the way to the acceptance stage in Cleveland next summer.
In the end, he signed off calling for an “end to the grip of poverty,” causing something between a collective shrug and a guffaw. He then reiterated the importance of electing a “conservative” president, thereby eliminating any hope that he might stand for something within the modern Republican Party that could ultimately save or redeem it.
My guess this morning was that he would decide against running, even after the Daily Beast farted out its now infamous “Sources: Romney’s running!” scoop. The odds of winning were too long and the risk of humiliation too great for him to take the plunge again. Only an egomaniac would think he was the guy for 2016 after losing badly twice before against fields much weaker than this, and Romney’s never struck me as an egomaniac. Frankly, I’m surprised he got as far as he did in thinking seriously about it again. The last month has been an odd show of impetuousness from a guy who’s supposed to be coolly, unflappably analytical in his assessment of risk. He seems to have taken Jeb Bush’s aggressive recruiting and fundraising as some sort of personal affront, worthy of tossing out the window his alleged plan to hold back and possibly enter the race late as establishment savior if Bush struggled. Remember, for months the only route to running again touted by Romney insiders was with Mitt as the reluctant warrior, drafted back into the race next spring to unite a fractured party that couldn’t agree on a nominee. Then Jeb got in and suddenly we arrived at a place where Romney was prepared to announce before nearly anyone else. Bizarre. But I’m glad he got his bearings before making a mistake. It would have been painful to watch him struggle and eventually quit against a more talented field. He’s a nice man. He’ll do well, and already has done well, as an elder statesman.
I’ve been more or less positive about Romney’s running again, and I just put up a post earlier this morning looking at the factors he was supposedly weighing, but even though I do like him, I was concerned that he was becoming the front-runner mostly on name recognition, and that was not good for the overall competition within the GOP. I’d like to see the plausible candidates go through a process of presenting themselves to us — especially in debates — and giving us a chance to scrutinize them and maybe warm up to them, and it’s appropriate for Romney to stand back and allow that to happen.
If various seemingly plausible candidates fail to get traction or crash for some reason, there’s the elder statesman Romney, prepared to serve if needed. I like him there. It fits with the idea that he was going to use as his pitch: That he’s a dutiful, modest man, a humble servant, who responds to a calling.
So: Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Naturally, the news helps clear the way for Romney’s main rival, Jeb Bush. The donor and consultant classes are no doubt jockeying for new position with Romney out.
But perhaps this is the beginning of the slow peel toward a smaller group. Let’s face it, if Romney thought he could make a case for a third run, anyone could make the case for a run. Clearly, he thought better.
I will take full credit for Mitt Romney dropping out of the race—looks like he won’t be endorsing Trump any time soon.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2015
— Ted Reinmiller (@teddyr549) January 30, 2015
(great- liberal RINO) Romney Out! —http://t.co/aJfEEhWJkf
— John Ringbauer (@novice90) January 30, 2015
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) January 30, 2015
— Billmon (@billmon1) January 30, 2015
— Billmon (@billmon1) January 30, 2015
In the 3 weeks since it was reported Romney was "almost certainly" in, the response has ranged from lukewarm to hostile. Had to factor.
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) January 30, 2015
BREAKING: Unemployment <6%. Gas <$2.50. Economy growing 5%. Having met all his 1st term goals, @MittRomney says he will not seek re-election
— The Daily Edge (@TheDailyEdge) January 30, 2015