In a surprising turn of events, Mitt Romney announced that he won't run for president in 2016. First speaking to a small group of advisers via a conference call, Romney then made a second call to a larger circle of supporters, whom he told:
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.
His statement, first revealed by conservative American radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, saw Romney detail the support he had from potential donors and Republican activists, noting that he was leading in polls. But, Romney added:
I am convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been difficult test and a hard fight...
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. You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country. But we believe it is for the best of the Party and the nation.
The announcement comes as a shock for some, as the former Massachusetts governor had told supporters that he was "strongly considering" a third bid at the presidency, and took steps indicating that he was gearing up for it, such as hiring Scott Brown's former campaign manager, Colin Reed. But a potential Romney 2016 campaign irked members of the Republican party, many of whom were unconvinced of his viability as a legitimate Republican presidential contender.
His decision was also surely met with Jeb Bush's relief, as Romney was seen as a center-right candidate vying for the same group of donors and political operatives as Bush. The New York Times reported that many loyal supporters, donors and staff members were reluctant to back other potential candidates until Romney announced his plans.
During an over four-hour meeting last week, Romney's most trusted staff and advisers from his 2012 campaign delivered a sobering perspective, according to the New York Times —though they supported and believed in him, they would not encourage a third run after finding a lack of enthusiasm and support in their political channels for a third Romney run.