Mitt Romney held meetings with donors in New York this week that left one attendee convinced he is running for president again in 2016.
A member of Romney’s inner circle who spoke to Business Insider said the former governor of Massachusetts traveled to New York City on Monday where he met with key financial backers of his past campaigns to lay the groundwork for a 2016 White House bid.
The source, who was at one of the meetings, said other attendees included Time Warner CEO Stephen Ross, New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson, and hedge funders Julian Robertson and Paul Singer.
A representative for Romney did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the meetings from Business Insider.
Romney, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, previously ran for president in 2008 and in 2012, when he was the GOP nominee. In addition to potential donors, the source said Romney met with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) this week.
Christie endorsed Romney during his last race. However, he is expected to mount his own White House bid in 2016.
Christie’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his meeting with Romney.
During his time in New York, the source said Romney also attended Monday night’s football game between the Miami Dolphins — owned by Ross — and Johnson’s New York Jets. Dom Cosentino, a Jets beat writer, reported seeing Romney and Johnson walking across the field together before the game.
Romney’s meetings this week are not his first efforts to reconnect with former donors and campaign staff. In October, The Washington Post reported on a “flurry of behind-the-scenes activity” that Romney’s “friends” said was leading him to “more seriously consider” running for president again. This activity included multiple meetings with donors and “supporters in key states” as well as an October dinner in Boston that Romney and his wife hosted for “former campaign advisers and business associates.”
Romney made a series of campaign appearances for Republicans around the country ahead of last month’s midterm elections.
Publicly, Romney has insisted he has no interest in a third presidential campaign. In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt in August, Romney said he “loved running for president,” but his past losses made him think another Republican might have a “better shot.”
“I love the country enough to know that I’m not as good a candidate this time around as I think the other guys would be, because they’re new and not defined,” Romney said. “I want the country to win. I do not want to see Hillary Clinton as our next president.”
In spite of these comments, in that very same interview he indicated “circumstances can change.”
“Let’s say all the guys that were running all came together and said, ‘Hey, we’ve decided we can’t do it, you must do it.’ That’s the one of the million we’re thinking about,” said Romney.
In September, Romney’s wife, Ann, indicated Romney would be discouraged from mounting another White House bid if former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) enters the 2016 field. Both Bush and Romney are relatively moderate Republicans who would likely compete for the same voters, and donors. They are also especially appealing options for Wall Streeters in a GOP field that is otherwise likely to be dominated by the libertarian leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and the infamously combative Christie.
Bush has said he is thinking about launching a campaign. In an October interview, Ann said Romney was “done” running for president. However, the source who spoke to Business Insider said she would be fully supportive if her husband does decide to run in 2016.
A Quinnipiac poll released late last month showed Romney and Bush were the two potential 2016 presidential candidates with the most support from Republican voters.