The "Other Leaders" Mitt Romney Hinted At Will Benefit From His Abrupt Exit From The Race

Everyone's still buzzing over the news that Mitt Romney will not,repeat not, be running for president. In his statement to supporters during a conference call Friday, Romney explicitly linked his refusal to run with other viable candidates who deserved their shot in the race. So — who are they?

Romney said:

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.

There are a few candidates who might benefit most from Romney backing out of the race — most are moderates who share many of the same views as Romney. But some of those in the field won't likely benefit; folks like Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, for example, whose more libertarian stances won't attract the votes that would have gone to Romney. Then there are the long shots, those who didn't really have a chance with or without Romney in the race — sorry, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee.

Let's take a look at those in the 2016 field who might benefit most from Romney's announcement.

Jeb Bush

Friday appeared to be a good day for Jeb. Now that Mitt is gone, the RealClearPolitics average of major polls puts him seven points ahead of everyone else in the GOP primary. Bush most benefits, as the only other establishment candidate considering a run. Initial concerns over a splitting donors and the establishment voting base led Jeb and Mitt to hold a meeting last week.

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Jeb isn't ruling out Mitt's influence — in a Facebook post, 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.

Maybe an endorsement could be in the works?

Marco Rubio

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The Florida senator hinted about presidential bid last week. Despite being a darling of the Tea Party, he offers many of the same steady policies on fiscal issues appealing to Romney supporters. So maybe Mitt wasn't referring to Bush, but perhaps a newer, fresher face in the party (he's almost two decades younger than the former governor):

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 a statement, Rubio emphasized the generation differences:

He certainly earned the right to consider running, so I deeply respect his decision to give the next generation a chance to lead.

Maybe the senator thinks he could be the 2016 successor to the former nominee?

Scott Walker

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The Wisconsin governor has survived a recall election and has been popular among conservatives for his role in implementing right-to-work in his state, streamlining a movement across the country. He also had some words to offer, following the news that there will be one less podium on the debate stage:

Walker is another younger member of the Republican ranks. Perhaps he could be the person the former nominee has in mind?

Now, with Romney out of the race, only time will tell who will benefit from the early exit. There are about 20 points to be redistributed — so in the meantime, we'll be on the lookout for the new polls.

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