Romney reflects on 2016: Why didn't I run -- 'I ask myself that a lot'

Mitt Romney says he often wonders why he’s not running in the 2016 election.

“I get asked on a regular basis, ‘Boy, why aren’t you running this year?’ I ask myself that a lot too,” Romney said Wednesday at a summit hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, ABC News reported.

The 2012 Republican nominee was welcomed by a zealous audience who greeted him with a standing ovation, according to Politico. He joked about his loss to President Barack Obama four years ago and encouraged the audience to run for president if they have the chance.

Romney expressed disappointment that debates in this election cycle haven’t address key issues and rebuked both presidential candidates — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — without naming them, for not discussing some real challenges facing the country such as national debt and poverty.

“I’ve watched the presidential debates, I’ve looked at the give-and-take, there’s been almost no discussion of those things I’ve described,” Romney said. “I don’t think either candidate for president has said they’re going to reform entitlements one way or another.”

Romney declined to comment on the state of the presidential race in Utah, where he got a landslide victory in 2012 and now independent candidate Evan McMullin is leading, and declined to say which candidate he is going to vote for — he said earlier this year that he refused to vote for either Clinton or Trump and may vote for a third party candidate.

Romney announced in early 2015 that he will stay out of the 2016 presidential race, saying in a statement that he didn’t want to “make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president”. Early this year, his son was still urging him to run for president.

Speculations about a possible 2016 Romney White House bid had been going on for a while. The former Massachusetts governor made it abundantly clear on the “Today” show in November last year: “I’ve said it. I’ll say it again today, which is: I’m not running. I’m not planning on running.”

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