July 11th, 2014
01:04 PM ET
2 weeks ago

What's behind Romney 2016 speculation

(CNN) - Here we go again. Another poll adding to the feeding frenzy over a possible third Mitt Romney run for the White House.

While the 2012 Republican presidential nominee's repeatedly said he's not running again in 2016, the attention such speculation captures is a sign of the wide open nature right now of the next GOP nomination race.

"Think about it – we're still closer to the last presidential election than the next one. So until some of these other potential candidates have more time to really begin campaigning in earnest, I think Romney will continue to be top of mind for a lot of average voters," longtime South Carolina GOP consultant Joel Sawyer, senior VP of the Republican digital firm Push Digital, told CNN.

GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who served as a senior adviser in Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, said that "the interest is driven by those who believe, very deeply, that he would have been a very effective president and that he has been proven right on so many issues and ideas that he advanced in the 2012 campaign."

"But conceptual candidacies are very enticing, almost irresistible. Actual candidacies are cold, hard realities. There's a universe of differences between the two," added Madden, a CNN contributor.

Romney's numbers adding up

The latest survey to generate buzz: A WMUR/Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire. The survey, released Thursday night, indicated that Romney would be the overwhelming front runner in the first-in-the-nation primary state if he decided to run again. Thirty-nine percent of likely GOP primary voters in the Granite State said they'd support Romney, with the potential 2016 Republican White House hopefuls all in single digits.

It's the second straight poll to indicate Romney would be the frontrunner in New Hampshire. Last month a Suffolk University/Boston Herald survey indicated that 24% of Granite State Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP said that Romney would be their first choice for their party's presidential nomination, far ahead of the rest of the field.

While the surveys are making headlines, it's important to remember that Romney's very well known in New Hampshire. He owns a vacation home in the state, has often appeared at GOP events in New Hampshire, and was governor of neighboring Massachusetts. Romney easily won the state's 2012 Republican primary, but lost the state by six percentage points to President Barack Obama in the general election.

The first poll to spark the Romney 2016 flames was an ABC News/Washington Post national survey released last November that suggested that if the 2012 presidential election between Romney and President Braack Obama were held today, Romney would hold a slight lead in the popular vote. Obama won the popular vote in the 2012 contest by a 51%-47% margin.

The flames were further fanned again last week, when by a 45%-38% margin, voters nationwide questioned in Quinnipiac University poll said that the country would be better off if Romney rather than Obama had won the 2012 election.

Besides generating buzz, the polls have peaked the interest of some major Republican donors.

An adviser close to former Massachusetts governor told CNN that he received a bunch of calls last month in the hour following the release of the Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll, from donors who contributed to the 2012 Romney presidential campaign.

Spencer Zwick, the campaign finance chairman for Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, recently told CNN that he thinks the polls create "a hope and interest from a lot of those donors who would have loved to seen Romney become president but are hopeful there may be a shot in the future."

"It started a few months ago with donors saying 'do you think there's any shot,' to donors now saying 'how do we convince him to do it.' Which is kind of interesting because they have heard Gov. Romney say 'I'm not planning on doing this again' and I think some of these donors don't want to take no for an answer," Zwick added.

No, No, No

Romney's been very clear on the subject of 2016.

"The answer is no, I'm not running for president in 2016. It's time for someone else to take that responsibility and I'll be supporting our nominee," he told anchor Wolf Blitzer in February on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"

He's been using the same "I'm not running" language over and over again. And Romney's wife, Ann, has also been adamant against another run.

How many ways can Romney say 'no' to 2016

With just about every national and state poll indicating that the next GOP presidential nomination battle remains a wide open affair with no frontrunner among the potential contenders, it's no wonder that many Republicans still look to Romney.

"There are many people like me who would support Governor Romney if he decided to run again, but ultimately I believe he will find other ways to serve our country and the GOP in 2016," said veteran New Hampshire GOP consultant Jim Merrill, who was a top adviser to Romney in the Granite State in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

Since his defeat in the 2012 presidential election, Romney's taken on the role of Republican Party elder statesman, in hopes of helping shape the future of the party. Since late last year, he's made a bunch of endorsements – all successful – in a number of GOP primary battles this cycle.

But Madden says there's a reason Romney's been "crystal clear" about not running again: "He knows how even that speculation has a negative impact on the prospective field. It holds up donors, it holds up volunteers and staff."

What if Romney had won

Another reason for the Romney renaissance may be "buyers remorse," or in the case of Republicans who voted against Obama, an "I told you so" sentiment.

"The rising interest in Romney is because Republicans feel that President Obama is badly managing our country while it is in the middle of some serious foreign and domestic challenges. Romney is viewed by some as a competent former CEO who could bring stability and direction to the White House," said GOP consultant Ron Bonjean, who has been a top strategist and adviser to House and Senate Republican leaders.

"It's no surprise that Americans are wondering 'what if' Mitt Romney had been elected president as they watch President Obama stumble from one crisis to the next," added Merrill.

And part of it is just timing, plain and simple.

"There's a lot of buyers' remorse with Obama, and I think Romney's name pops to the top of the list because not long ago, he was out there running a national campaign," said Sawyer.


Filed under: 2016 • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Poll
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. yerkiddinright

    What's driving it? Desperation. The GOP doesn't have a single potential candidate capable of winning the election if they ran unopposed much less against Hillary Clinton.

    July 11, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. Lily

    Whatever the case, Romney will never ever sit in the White House and Ann become the First Lady. I betted in 2012 and I can now bet again the Whole of my life savings, he will never be President unless the Obama Campaign Machine is whole totally dead. This is not going to happen today or tomorrow. He better give it up already. It is not going to happen I repeat myself!

    July 11, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. truth hurts but reality bites

    The American people now know they screwed up royally by re-electing Obama. They are really ticked off that they were lied to in the process. What you are seeing is Obama Buyers Remorse. They are really mad they were lied to and sold a defective Pinto that catches fire every month.

    July 11, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    I'm waiting for them the resurrect Tom Dewey.

    July 11, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Desperation.
    Plain and simple.
    GOPeeing Teatards got nothing to run...again.
    What's new?

    July 11, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Longtimer

    The complete lack of any viable candidates on the Right? The GOP screams "Hillary is too old". Guess what? Romney is older.

    July 11, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. smith

    @Lily-Did you read the article? Romney is not running for potus. So what in heck are you talking about?

    July 11, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Stuffitu

    Did you hear that staffers for the Clinton Foundation the "charity" to which the Hiidabeast is donating her massive speech making fees to, are working for the Hillary for President campaign? Lots of ethics those Clintons have. The IRS won't investigate them though.

    July 11, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. kool aid man

    Show us your taxes mitt, after your amendments, please, your dad did, why not you?

    July 11, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. 1108

    Lily
    ....... He better give it up already.

    You did read the part about Romney saying he's not going to rub, right?

    July 11, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. kool aid man

    Run mitt run,..... Romney/Palin, that's the ticket, too funny.

    July 11, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. richard in houston

    Mitt who ? I wonder if he will release his taxes this time ?

    July 11, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Tampa Tim

    The Jeep is moving to China liar of the year is now the GOBagger favorite? Romney/Boehner in 2016 would be the best the RWNJs could put up.

    July 11, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    The radical Christian Right is shooting for Christian take over, but I am not sure Romney is close enough to their purity level. They are creepy folks. I just saw an article (Wash.Post) quoting CEO Green as stating the real mission behind the court cases. He wants to require his specific interpretation of the Bible to be required highschool curriculum.

    Remember it has NOTHING to do with religious freedom. It is Religious Sect domination.

    July 11, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Boo

    Mr. Excitement again??????!!! Please note sarcasm.

    July 11, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Simple. Neither party has a really good potential candidate. Neither wants to give up any possibilities as yet.

    I see a dark horse, from both parties.

    July 11, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    There is no way on God's Good Earth that Mitt Romney would run in 2016. Why not? Tax Returns. Not only would he have to disclose more of them, but he would be under a lot of pressure to release everything since the last time that he ran. The public will be very interested in knowing what happened to all of those deductions that he didn't take that raised his effective rate to nearly 14%. Had he taken the deductions, then his effective rate would have dropped to under 2%.

    July 11, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Tom

    Wonder if Karl Rove has any thoughts on another Romney run? He felt Hillary Clinton's age should be a large factor in the 2016 election. How would he feel now, knowing than Mitt is more than 9 months older than Hillary? If asked, I'm certain that age alone is no longer a factor. Let's hope for the country's sake that Mitt continues to pump his own gas for years to come.

    July 11, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. GODZILLA1

    Oh please run again Mitt, pleasepleasepleaseplease!!!! I want to see all the film footage of your "47 Percent" comments again and again.

    July 11, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. emskadittle

    well you got a rhino, a Cuban anchor baby, a Cuban Canadian, ole N head and a Paul. I the two time loser is the best choice

    July 11, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    He'll run. I don't care what he says. He'll run, but he's going to make them beg first.

    July 11, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    "The flames were further fanned again last week, when by a 45%-38% margin, voters nationwide questioned in Quinnipiac University poll said that the country would be better off if Romney rather than Obama had won the 2012 election."
    -------------
    THAT'S what's behind it. The koolaide has worn off. Buyer's remorse has set in. It was just 18 months late in coming.

    July 11, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. TiredOfPaying

    Go for it, Mitt. Pick Sarah Palin as your running mate. Please. It will ensure the destruction of the Republican party. It will give the comedians sufficient matierial that they will never be unemployed. But most of all, it might convince the Republican party that their ideas are old, outdated, and usless in today's society. See, sometimes, Mitt Doesn't Happen.

    July 11, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    “The rising interest in Romney is because Republicans feel that President Obama is badly managing our country while it is in the middle of some serious foreign and domestic challenges. Romney is viewed by some as a competent former CEO who could bring stability and direction to the White House,” said GOP consultant Ron Bonjean, who has been a top strategist and adviser to House and Senate Republican leaders.

    “It’s no surprise that Americans are wondering ‘what if’ Mitt Romney had been elected president as they watch President Obama stumble from one crisis to the next,” added Merrill.

    How can one have buyers remorse when you never bought the product? These are the very same people that voted against President Obama in the first place now claiming they have buyers remorse. Insanity. If the GOP had not decided they hated having HIM in the WH more than they loved Amurikkka, imagine how much better we would be doing as a country.

    But keep the misconceptions going Fox. Just like the Benghazi crap. Military says there was no stand down order given yet Issa sits there with his face scrunched up like Boehners and says "uh huh, yes there was". Nothing but a bunch of sore losing, whining traitors that should be tried as so. What hateful people.

    July 11, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    "The flames were further fanned again last week, when by a 45%-38% margin, voters nationwide questioned in Quinnipiac University poll said that the country would be better off if Romney rather than Obama had won the 2012 election."
    -----
    THAT'S what's behind it. The koolaide has worn off. Buyer's remorse has set in. It was just 18 months late in coming.
    =============================================================
    Had they polled me I would have been one of those to say that the country could be better off had Romney won, because of the simple fact that Republicans would have stopped all of this destructive obstruction.

    July 11, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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