Mitt Romney says he will not make 2016 White House bid

Jon Ward

Yahoo News

In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. Closing in on a decision about whether to again run for president, Mitt Romney is finding that several past major fundraisers and donors in key states have defected to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The donors, in interviews with The Associated Press, said they see in Bush what they liked about Romney in 2012, namely what they believe it takes to serve successfully as president, but also something he could not muster in his two previous campaigns: what it takes, both in personality as a candidate and in a supporting staff, to win the White House for the GOP. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., Jan. 28, 2015. Closing in on a decision about whether to again run for president, Mitt Romney is finding that several past major fundraisers and donors in key states have defected to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The donors, in interviews with The Associated Press, said they see in Bush what they liked about Romney in 2012, namely what they believe it takes to serve successfully as president, but also something he could not muster in his two previous campaigns: what it takes, both in personality as a candidate and in a supporting staff, to win the White House for the GOP. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney wanted to go out on his terms.

The former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate pulled back from the brink of a third only after determining that he could position himself as going out on top.

“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,” Romney said in a statement first published on radio host Hugh Hewitt’s website.

“Two weeks ago it would have looked like he got pushed out,” said a campaign adviser from the 2012 effort.

Now, Romney exited the stage with the most recent opinion polls showing him leading the huge field of potential Republican candidates for president. He has tried to rebrand himself as a man who cares about the poor, and delivered a highly publicized speech in Mississippi this week.

Many in the political world laughed at the idea that Romney would run again, and Romney was losing the battle for political staff and donors, sometimes badly. On Thursday David Kochel, who ran Romney’s Iowa campaign in 2012, was announced as going to work for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as a national adviser. And political operatives who admired Romney expressed hope that he would decide not to run, for his own sake. Romney had built up good will with many in the party, but that would dissipate quickly as a primary campaign heated up. And even those who had worked for Romney believed he did not comprehend the way in which he would be reduced to tatters in a primary.

Nonetheless, Romney, his family and his close advisers all believed firmly that he was the right man for the job in 2012, and remained so now.

“I am convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been difficult test and a hard fight,” Romney’s prepared remarks on a conference call with supporters said.

With the polling data especially being what it is, Romney can exit the scene saying he walked away from a likely victory.

“It’s the right thing to do at the right time,” said the former Romney aide.

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