Mitt Romney met with several key members of his 2012 team on Wednesday night, potentially indicating he’ll run for president again in 2016.
Romney had dinner with the political advisers in Menlo Park, California at Madera, a Michelin-starred restaurant close to Stanford University’s campus.
He was at the campus to give a lecture on presidential politics.
The Washington Post, which revealed the dinner plans, said that some Romney associates, including prominent donors and consultants, say Romney remains a viable candidate who could easily enter the race, although they noted that he’s waiting to see how the GOP field shapes up before making a final decision.
“Talking to lots of people close to him, I know the idea is still alive and certainly there are many of us who think he’d be an outstanding president,” said former Minnesota Republican congressman Vin Weber, a former Romney adviser.
“But they will make a mistake if they think that his status allows him to wait for a long period of time. What Bush understands is that the advantage of having so-called front-runner status is that a lot of people will sign up early on.”
The actions of Jeb Bush, who is considered by some to be the frontrunner, including establishing a leadership PAC and super PAC, have increased the pressure on some potential contenders.
But former Romney adviser Ron Kaufman insisted that the dinner was a friendly one and did not indicate that Romney is going to try for a third time to be president. “He is going to whatever he can to help and hopes someone out there catches fire. He’ll be out there the whole time helping,” Kaufman said.
The Hill notes that from appearances, there will be a huge and highly contested Republican primary, headlined by Bush, the former governor of Florida; Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas; and Chris Christie, the current governor of New Jersey.
Players such as Senators Rand Paul (Kentucky), Marco Rubio (Florida), and Ted Cruz (Texas), “are sure to jump in the race,” the outlet said, while former Texas governor Rick Perry is also expected to run.
A number of other potential contenders could very well declare, including former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santurom, who finished second to Romney in 2012, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.
“The GOP free-for-all shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. In the 2012 cycle, many shirked from a reelection fight with President Obama — even with a reeling economy and dropping poll numbers. But Hillary Clinton doesn’t scare off Republicans; her weaknesses were on display during the 2008 primary against Obama,” The Hill said.
“Plus, winning the White House in a race with no incumbent is always easier. And history is on the GOP’s side. Democrats haven’t won three consecutive White House terms since Franklin D. Roosevelt. As a result, many GOP heavyweights see 2016 as their best, last chance to make a play for the Oval Office.”