Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is rapidly moving to reassemble his national political network, indicating that he is serious about running for president in 2016, The Washington Post reported.
Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008 and 2012 —
the latter time as the Republican nominee —
contacted former aides, donors and other supporters on Monday and over the weekend in what the Post described as a "concerted push" to "signal his seriousness about possibly launching" a 2016 presidential campaign.
Romney's message, as he told a senior Republican, was that he "almost certainly will" run for the White House a third time.
Romney has spent considerable time on the phone in recent days, calling many of his political allies to discuss a potential 2016 campaign. Among those he talked to over the weekend was his 2012 running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who was described as encouraging by people familiar with the discussion.
Monday that he will not run for president in 2016.
Other Republicans Romney reportedly spoke with recently include Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz; Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; former Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Jim Talent of Missouri; and Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman.
In his conversations, Romney said he will run to the right of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and has tried to reassure conservatives that he shares their views on issues such as tax policy and immigration.
On Friday, Romney told a private gathering of donors that "I want to be president" and said his wife, Ann, was "very encouraging" about another campaign.
Romney said he may also attend the Republican National Committee meeting scheduled to begin Wednesday in San Diego.
As of Monday, Romney had won the backing of Jim Merrill and Thomas D. Rath, his top two New Hampshire-based advisers.
Former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, who backed Romney in 2008 and 2012, said he "figures there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse now and that his message is a good message and it’ll resonate."
Romney is also looking at Iowa, which holds the country's first caucuses, contacting David Kochel, his former Iowa strategist. But Romney has not connected with Iowa Republican Sens. Charles Grassley or Joni Ernst.
"I haven’t talked to him in two years," Grassley said Monday.
"Mitt’s a very restless character. He is not the type to retire happily, to read books on the beach," said an anonymous Romney adviser. "He believes he has something to offer the country and the only way he can do that is by running for president again."
Romney's move "puts him right back into the conversation as a leading candidate for the GOP nomination," according to The Hill. The publication noted that a December McClatchy-Marist poll showed Romney leading all major prospective Republican candidates among GOP-leaning voters. According to the poll,
Romney held a 5 percentage point margin over Bush.
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