Mitt Romney’s exploration of a third presidential campaign ended Friday after three tumultuous weeks of deliberations that led him to conclude that, while he might emerge with the Republican nomination again in 2016, he might be so badly wounded in the process that he would have trouble defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election.
Romney’s sudden decision to declare his interest had been prompted by his concerns over rival Jeb Bush’s aggressive moves to poach from his 2012 coalition, according to intimates. It was fueled further by a mountain of polling data commissioned earlier for one of his donors — suggesting Romney was in the strongest position of any Republican.
But by the end of last weekend, Romney had made the call, according to those familiar with the deliberations. He sat on it for a few days to assure himself that not running was the right thing to do for himself and his party before making his announcement Friday. He bowed out in a call to supporters still convinced he was as well-qualified as anyone in the party to be president.
His decision, he said, was aimed at giving other, lesser-known candidates the opportunity to emerge and eventually prosper. “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.