Mitt Romney 3.0 is powering down. The former Massachusetts governor shocked the political world on Friday by announcing he won't pursue a third run for president.
Speculation has been rampant that Romney would enter the 2016 Republican primary field since he told donors three weeks ago he was considering another run for the White House.
Romney announced a conference call on Friday to update supporters on his plans and multiple news outlets reported he would indeed run again.
Instead, Romney told his backers he would step aside for other Republicans to seek the nomination.
"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, according to remarks obtained by conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Romney won the Republican nomination for president in 2012 after a grueling primary battle. But President Obama crushed him in the general election and, for much of the last year, he said he wouldn't run again.
The former Massachusetts governor has flirted with another run this month, but he reversed course today. He said that he would not form a political action committee, hire campaign staff, or accept donations. Romney said it was "unlikely" he will change his mind.
Romney said early polling showed he would start the race in a "strong position" and that he was convinced he could win the GOP nomination for a second time. But Romney said that a third campaign "would have been difficult test and a hard fight."
His announcement upset loyal supporters, such as Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R).
Romney declined to endorse one of the other potential candidates in the field, but expressed confidence he or she would be able to beat the Democratic candidate.
"I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee," he said. "In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who would have been Romney's chief rival for Republican establishment support, said he looked forward to working with Romney.
"Mitt is a patriot and I join many in hoping his days of serving our nation and our party are not over," Bush said in a statement on Facebook.
In announcing he won't run, Romney told supporters he did not want to "make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president."
"You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country," Romney said. "But we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation."
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.