(CNN) - Speculation has swirled over whether Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will run for president in 2012, and in a late night television appearance Wednesday he said it will be clear when and if he's throwing his hat in the ring.
"If you ever see me sign up for a gig on Fox News, it'll be a clear indication that I've decided to run for president," Romney joked on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," a reference to the five potential 2012 candidates that appear on the network. "That's not in the cards anytime soon, thanks."
Romney made a bid for the last GOP presidential nomination, and when asked what he would do differently this time around he said, "I'd get more votes than the other guy."
While he praised 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin as a "remarkable, energetic, powerful figure in my party, attractive too," he also issued veiled criticism of the former Alaska governor who stepped down from her post half way through her first term.
"It's hard to imagine a circumstance where I would quit, great job. I loved it, but she had her reasons," Romney said before saying he wasn't going to speak negatively about her.
He also called former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush "remarkable people," in reference to a recent interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" where they spoke well of Romney. During the same interview Mrs. Bush said she thought Palin should "stay in Alaska."
"(We're) blessed with great first ladies, that Barbara Bush, she is one of a long line of terrific first ladies and Michelle Obama also," Romney said. "Both of them could beat you arm wrestling, Barbara Bush, you don't want to mess with her."
Leno asked him a litany of policy questions including his opinion on tax cuts, the WikiLeaks controversy and President Obama.
"He got his grade in November when people went to the polls and his agenda was not their agenda, so they voted no," Romney said. "I think it was a failing couple of years. I hope to see him move to the middle and do what's necessary to get America back."
Romney was very visible on the campaign trail in the three months leading up to the midterm elections, helping campaign for fellow Republicans, but he's been mostly out of the spotlight in the four weeks since the elections.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report