Romney ponders third presidential run; Ann ‘very encouraging’ about 2016

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WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney told an audience of Republican donors in New York on Friday that he is seriously considering a third presidential bid.

“Mitt told the group of 30 or so guys that were there that he is considering a run for the White House and that they could go tell their friends,” a source in the room told CNN.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the comments.

Though his loyalists and supportive donors have floated his name as a potential candidate for the better part of a year, Romney himself has been more reticent about mounting another White House bid after his 2008 and 2012 losses.

But Romney’s outlook has changed in recent weeks, according to people who have spoken with him recently, and he seems to be more serious than ever before.

His comments come in the wake of Jeb Bush’s stepped-up political activity. Bush, Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — all favorites of the Republican establishment and New York donor community — would presumably draw from the same pool of financial backers.

“I think he is serious,” said the person at the New York meeting. “One of the first things he said he said was, ‘People ask me, do you want to be president? Well, yes, I did run twice.”

Romney said that his wife, Ann, is “very encouraging” about 2016, the source said, but his sons are split about the idea.

The former Massachusetts governor told the crowd that a potential campaign would “have to have a positive message.” He also said, somewhat obviously, that he “would run a different campaign from what he’s run in the past.”

Romney entertained questions about the rest of the potential 2016 field but had only positive things to say about his would-be rivals, the source said.