Mitt Romney told supporters on a conference call Friday that he has decided not to run for president again in 2016.
“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 a transcript of his remarks, first reported by radio host Hugh Hewitt.
After Hewitt posted the transcript, a Romney aide confirmed the news to The Daily Caller.
Late Thursday, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee had invited supporters to listen to him give an update on his thinking Friday morning. Some had speculated that Romney was going to actually announce a run.
But in his comments Friday, Romney thanked the donors and supporters who had encouraged him to take a look at the race.
“There are a large number of people who signed on to be leaders of our 2016 finance effort,” he said. “In addition, state political leadership from several of the early primary states are on the line. And here in New York City, and on the phone, are people who have been helping me think through how to build a new team, as well as supporters from the past who have all been kind enough to volunteer their time during this deliberation stage. Welcome, and thank you. Your loyalty and friendship, and your desire to see the country with new, competent and conservative leadership warms my heart.”
Romney said in the call that he is “convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination.”
“Our finance calls made it clear that we would have enough funding to be more than competitive,” he said. “With few exceptions, our field political leadership is ready and enthusiastic about a new race. And the reaction of Republican voters across the country was both surprising and heartening.”
Without mentioning former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Romney seemed to suggest he thinks someone else would be the ideal Republican candidate in 2016.
“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.”
Added Romney: “I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president.”
Romney said it is “unlikely” he would change his mind and encouraged his supporters to back someone else.
“I encourage all of you on this call to stay engaged in the critical process of selecting a Republican nominee for President,” he said. “Please feel free to sign up on a campaign for a person who you believe may become our best nominee.”
“I believe a Republican winning back the White House is essential for our country, and I will do whatever I can to make that happen,” he said.
Bush, who was competing with Romney for the same donors, released a statement saying: “Mitt is a patriot and I join many in hoping his days of serving our nation and our party are not over. I look forward to working with him to ensure all Americans have a chance to rise up.”