Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced today that he will not be seeking the party’s nomination for the 2016 election, the New York Times reports.
The former Massachusetts governor would have been attempting to become only the second failed presidential candidate to ever win the White House — Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960 before winning the election in 1968.
Romney spent much of 2014 repeatedly insisting that he would not attempt to seek a third nomination as the GOP candidate. “I’m not running and I’m not planning on running,” he told supporters in Atlanta in August. “I’ve got nothing to add to that story.”
Last year, former presidential candidate and current Arizona Senator John McCain (R) told Reuters that “one thing that he’s got going for him is everybody in the Republican Party likes Mitt Romney. They may not think he ran the best campaign, but he’s such a very decent human being, he certainly checks the box for likeability amongst the Republican Party.”
Romney was not, however, a favorite of the conservative wing of the party. Just last weeks in Iowa, conservatives cheered as fellow hopeful Donald Trump said that the party’s next candidate “can’t be Mitt, because Mitt ran and failed” in 2012.
At a gathering of grassroots Republican activists last week, the opposition to another Romney run was palpable. Bill Eastland, an attendee from Texas, said that Romney “didn’t run his campaign right against Obama. He flubbed it. Another Romney candidacy would be a complete disaster, and I don’t think he’ll even get there.”
“We hear he is getting his old team back,” an anonymous Republican strategist said. “We are all really concerned because his old team didn’t do such a great job last time. Everyone I talk to says he had his chance, and his chance has gone. They are desperate for someone new. And what would he do different this time?”
According to Rush Limbaugh, Romney would only have had a chance if he used another presumptive nominee, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, as a “blueprint” as to how to differentiate the Republican party from progressives.
“What I do know is that Scott Walker was personally targeted on education and unions,” Limbaugh said of the attempt to recall Walker in 2012. “They tried to destroy him [in] every which way possible. We want winners, do we not?”
Still, there was support from many of the old Republican guard, as Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin reported.
“Romney also has been briefed on what one Republican source describes as a massive, rolling private polling project recently conducted by a wealthy GOP contributor who shelled out his own money to determine which Republican has the best chance of winning the nomination,” Halperin wrote.
“The data, collected over an extended period of time in the first twenty states scheduled to hold caucuses and primaries in 2016, shows Romney with a huge lead across the board, and significantly better favorable/unfavorable ratings than the rest of the large potential field.”