July 11th, 2014
01:04 PM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. Sniffit

    Yes, you read that right....we had a $71 BILLION surplus in June and the GOP/Teatrolls are running around deliberately mischaracterizing a very specific request for a defined amount of money, only $3.7B, to address the immigration problem as "a blank check."

    July 11, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Mel

    Liberals love this guy. He gave them Obamacare afterall. That's why they keep pushing him. But it's futile, his time in the GOP is done.

    July 11, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "But if the Republicans finally overcome the stupid, they will avoid picking a pair of white guys again. There's plenty of prospective candidates who are qualified – more so than the current President by far – they don't need to settle for white males all the time. Time to silence the race card on the left by choosing a couple of minorities, hopefully including an intelligent female."

    LOL! If you think the GOP/Teatrolls' problem is the color of their candidates' skin, not the color of their candidates' commentary, then by all means, please proceed....

    You might want to practice saying "President Clinton" in the meantime though.

    July 11, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    it must be said

    Rudy NYC
    The more Republicans let this border crisis go on, the more people will learn about it, and what is really going on.

    You got that right Rudy! And the Democrats are going to find out the hard way in November the American people do like their country being invaded and the invaders
    I got it right? You mean to say that you admit that Republicans are dragging their heels in resolving the border crisis.

    July 11, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. yolanda

    @Gurgyl, I'm trying to figure out if you spent more money on grammar lessons or charm school.> Either way, you should have a hefty refund coming......

    July 11, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Obama's Legacy: The Decimation of the Democrat Party

    If all of our red state brothers and sisters do their duty this November and throw out every single red state Democrat Senator, this country can finally begin its long climb back from the Lost Obama Years. Do not listen to anymore of the Democrats lies and fabrication. Do not forget all the lies they told you in 2012, especially the Liar of the Year, Obama.

    July 11, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. willard

    Roomey will be great presdient than obama

    July 11, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Tone

    Are the writers at Cnn tilting a little racist like fox.

    July 11, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    The Real Tom Paine

    "sending, sorry."

    "spending, sorry"


    July 11, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC


    @Gurgyl, I'm trying to figure out if you spent more money on grammar lessons or charm school.> Either way, you should have a hefty refund coming.
    It's pretty obvious to experienced folks that judging from Gurgyl's sentence structures that English is not his or her native language. I get the impression that English is a third or fourth language. How many languages do you speak?

    July 11, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. Ol' Yeller

    Matt writes:
    "It might just be the liberal news' media's fantasy that the GOP would field such a pathetic nominee again. (why not... when was the last time they did NOT field a pathetic candidate?) But if the Republicans finally overcome the stupid (hahahahahaaha... good one Matt. republicants finally getting over stupid. Whew... a kneeslapper, that one). , they will avoid picking a pair of white guys again. (AAAAHhhhhaahahahaaahahahaahaaa... hahahaha.. you are killing me! Not pick white guys!!! you need to take this schtick on the road!) There's plenty of prospective candidates who are qualified (yeah, they just ALL happen to be Democrats, but please proceed) – more so than the current President by far (ouch, attacking the President... getting stale) – they don't need to settle for white males all the time (Hee, hee, but you already used that one). Time to silence the race card on the left by choosing a couple of minorities, hopefully including an intelligent female." (Aaahhhahhhhaahahaahaahahaaha... what a closer!!! couple of minorities, in... in... in... the republicant party. Hooo boy.... and an intelligent female?!?! bachman??? palin??? But you said intelligent!!?!

    Talk about a fantasy land Matt... you are definitely living in one. the republicant's have got NOTHING but pathetic candidates. They are fractured, ignorant, and intolerant. Their chances of winning a Presidential election are very, very, poor for the next 2 to 4 election cycles and at the rate they are going.... probably ever.
    But good luck....

    July 11, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. smith

    @Rudy-There are divisions in both parties and there is not a civil war in the Repub. party. The foe of the GOP and the TP is still the Dems and they merge daily to go against them (hardly a civil war). The division in the Dems is H. Clinton and Obama. Why do you think Clinton is waiting to last minute to announce she is running for potus? Simple, because everyone will jump Obama`s ship and head to hers except the loyal Obamaholics (which aren`t alot anymore).

    July 11, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. it must be said

    Rudy NYC
    I got it right? You mean to say that you admit that Republicans are dragging their heels in resolving the border crisis.

    You obviously failed civics class Rudy. You see it is Obama's job, as President, to faithfully execute the laws of this nation and that includes protecting it from a tidal wave of illegals that he has encouraged by unilaterally and illegally granting amnesty to a group of illegals in our country. You know, actually enforcing the laws, deporting every single illegal you catch in the country, not granting them amnesty.

    Maybe if he showed one iota of being serious about enforcing our current immigration laws, others might actually believe he would enforce new immigration laws.

    July 11, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Linc

    Gurgyl and Rudy,

    Your right Romney is a nice guy and probably too ethical and nice to be President. Obama is a has been a disaster and you do not have to look back far to see a great President that was a democrat – Clinton. Obama is not fit to carry Clinton's luggage. Clinton could be abrasive but he worked well with others, got things done and presided over one the best economies in history. Leaders learn and evolve which Clinton did. Find me another Bill which Hillary is not I would vote for a Democrat as I did for Bill. I could deal with Clinton's personal failings as the man was and is lovable but deceit in governance and outright incompetence is patently Obama.

    July 11, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. Tommy G

    Are the writers at Cnn tilting a little racist like fox.

    No, you just wear glasses with the Racism Everywhere lens option.

    July 11, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. Chris..E.al

    I may be wrong here ? It want be the first time but why do we care how much cash someone has in the bank be it dem or repub ? Should we not care more about how they spend our tax money once elected ? I mean its their money they made it if made legal under u.s. law im proud for them ? And if any of you got some extra for free ill take it ? lol

    July 11, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Gary

    Kevin Madden says he was proven right on so many issues. Hmm, I just got back from a trip to China to see the Jeep headquarters. Looked all over, guess I missed it.

    July 11, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Gurgyl

    -language is the only medium of expression–not be a English grammar teacher nor scholar, dumbo. Either way you comprehend the expression. First learn yo live than collecting free money–tell you the truth, any thing you collect free–it is not yours, it does not stay for long. More so, it is a Sin too to aspire free stuff. Learn this. Strive for this nation, speak up, be good. Believe in God.

    July 11, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    @Rudy, its Friday.

    July 11, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. airjackie

    Most remember how well the Bush Administration used the reporters/press to spread the lies for 8 years well good news. Mitt Romney has gotten the Tea Party/GOP to join as one and he is picked to be President 2016. No need for votes as we saw in Florida when Jeb Bush gave the States electoral votes. Mitt an insider knew the 5 paid US Justices would give Corporations the same rights as People before the Court hearings. Mitt is getting a lot of help from Speaker Boehner and Congress. Today Congress passed a bill to give Corporations 263 Billion in tax breaks and looking to make it permanent and as Boehner said this would raise the Debt Ceiling but cuts from more Federal Programs would be done to of set the lost. Speaker Boehner is ready to add the cost of millions for the 3 fake scandals and another multi-million for suing the President for doing his job. Americans were suffering and in the deep Recession and Speaker Boehner is doing as much as he can to bring the Recession back before the 2016 election and blame the President. The mission is to distract Americans with racism as people are paid to call the President the N word to keep any attention from the mission. The Media/reporters/Press are paid not to report the current bills or play as it is only reported on the foreign news.

    July 11, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    Geez, Hector, decided to retire old Gundy for a while? Still same drivel, same poor grasp of history, economics and reality in general, but same pathological lies as before. Still taking directions like the good parrot, blurting our whatever you hear? You have not been the same since you tried to defend Todd Akin.

    July 11, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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