July 11th, 2014
01:04 PM ET
6 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.

"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. Obama: Destroyer of America

    Not electing Romney President... the biggest mistake this country has made this century. Especially now that Obama is allowing a full fledged invasion of our country. 2014 & 2016 will see the American people return to sanity and toss the lying, corrupt Democrats out in record numbers.

    July 11, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Boomer in Mo

    Rick McD
    you are so right. I've never liked Hillary and moderate GOP candidates can't get through their primaries. I've come to the conclusion we need a third party, not the tea party, but one that is middle of the road, like most Americans.

    July 11, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. ldsmom02

    At least Mitt Romney has a brain and can use it.

    July 11, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. O'drama ya Mama

    Hillary is too old for the GOP but Romney is perfectly fine even though he is older than Hillary. Hillary is out of touch with the average American and is too rich for the GOP but Romney building a car elevator in his garage is completely acceptable and means he is in touch with the average American. Can anyone figure out the hypocrisy of the GOP?

    July 11, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. TomInRochNY

    Of course they want Romney, who else does the right have? Sarah "Snow Snooki" Palin?

    July 11, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. JoeSunCity

    It sure would save the Democrats a lot of money. All they would have to do is run the old footage of Mitty talking trash about 49% of the population, "Corporations are people, my friend", and " I bought hardware stuff" just to mention a few.

    July 11, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. no mormons in the white house

    We must do all that we can to keep Mormons out of the White House, out of our bedrooms, and outta our lives.

    And brown people too.

    July 11, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    I too hope you run again, Mitt. Maybe this time when you get beated like never before, it'll finally sink in that you are not as well loved as you thought. One might go so far as to say that there's a certain percentage of the populace that don't trust you at all. Somewhere around 47%, or maybe more.

    July 11, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. Bill from GA

    The repubs are offering NOTHING.
    The Dems are offering NOTHING.

    That is why Hillary and Romney are topping the polls. The repubs will probably have their usual righties looking ridiculous in a smaller number of debates. Will the Dems see the light and offer a decent candidate or two?

    July 11, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. bobo

    What's behind it???? Probably the fact that we would be better off if Romney was President now!

    July 11, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Mr. Balls

    Romney was a lousy candidate in 2012 and nothing has changed except for the desperation in the GOP.

    July 11, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Obama: Destroyer of America

    Not electing Romney President... the biggest mistake this country has made this century. Especially now that Obama is allowing a full fledged invasion of our country. 2014 & 2016 will see the American people return to sanity and toss the lying, corrupt Democrats out in record numbers.
    -------------------------------
    Nah. Romney couldn't be trusted. He wouldn't release more than a single token tax return, one where he obviously massaged the number of deductions to make it look like he was paying a much higher rate than what he could. Everyone knows that he could have claimed the unclaimed deductions the following year.

    Romney released that misleading Jeep ad. He persisted on insisting that it was true, despite the fact that Jeep denied the accuracy of the ad. In fact, news reports visited the plant that Romney said was closing and discovered that some people were laid off because the plant was undergoing major renovations and upgrades.

    But, I don't need to knock on Mitt Romney. He does a much better job of it than what I ever could do.

    July 11, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. just asking

    no mormons in the white house
    We must do all that we can to keep Mormons out of the White House, out of our bedrooms, and outta our lives.
    --

    why do you have no problem forcing others to pay for your contraception if you don't want intrusion into your bedroom?

    July 11, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    @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 |
    ***************************************************************************************************************************
    Yeah. Whatever. How did Dubya work out for your party?

    July 11, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. PJ

    It is a joke. They are trying to wind up the Right to listen to Romney's endorsement of a Candidate in 2016. Nobody would vote for this guy, no more than New Hampshire will vote for his Prodedgy Scott Brown. Mittens is laughed at today in the real world. No, he will never become President and thus a "God" in his beliefs.

    July 11, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "What's behind Romney 2016 speculation"

    Shroom koolaid.

    July 11, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Jack

    There isn't any other good candidate!

    July 11, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. MB

    Doesn't anyone remember the one foreign trip Romney made abroad where he earned the name Mitt the Twit and him changing his mind every week on what he believed in -I Do -he would have been a DISASTER as a President

    July 11, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. Lily

    @ Smith and 1108
    If Romney is not part of the equation why can't he stay home and take care of grand kids? He is always here and there as if he never gave up the campaign. If he is out of politics, of which I know he can't make it any longer., No matter how much he loves it, he must disappear completely and let others play their part. Sorry to say, he is in the same category like the woman from Alaska. They never know when to quit.

    July 11, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. John

    Peaked? Sigh.

    July 11, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " 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. "

    Sure, Rudy. We would be better off with More Wars, More Tax Cuts (and Debt), Less Environmental Regulations, Repealing Obamacare, etc. And the same immigration problems, because repubs don't want to enforce the laws any more than the Dems.

    And if you think the gutless Dems would have stopped any of that, I can sell you a nice bridge over the East River to Flatbush Av.

    July 11, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Manuel Labor

    Romney's not the one, but it is time for an adult who's had a job, and knows people in business. Obama is neither of those. Hillary's legal experience at the Rose Law Firm was cursory. She's an academic and a politician. She knows some people in business, though. Not sure who else is out there. It's not time for Jeb.

    July 11, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Please.....lets give Romney the benefit of doubt.......if he says he's not running ...let it go.......He's already lost three times because the voters weren't interested.....so let that subject fade away...once and for all!!!!!!.....The 47% gave up on him big time...so it's time to move on!!!!!

    July 11, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

    Anonymous

    @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 |
    ***************************************************************************************************************************
    Yeah. Whatever. How did Dubya work out for your party?
    ---------
    What does GWB have to do with this article?

    Bush Derangement Syndrome is sooooooooooooo 2008.

    July 11, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  25. Gurgyl

    Why do you guys ask Mitt the twit? He lost, he spent six billion dollars of Koches, Sheldon and Trump, right? I glad, glad, glad, gladoooo, republican idiots lost and will lose like a dog in the jungle. Republicans destroyed by Two wars, one Iraq, Afghanistan the Reagan Trickle down trickeries. Now this nation is in Excellent shape–proof? See, stock market, unemployment, 25 million Health Insured, none denied because of cancer by BCBS trash. No wars, illegals deported maximum, getting Energy light bulbs-list is long- don't cry on color trash–we are not interested. God bless!!!

    July 11, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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