Mitt Romney says he won’t run for president in 2016

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WASHINGTON (CNN – Jan. 30, 2015) — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will not make a third run for president, CNN has confirmed, and will tell supporters on an 11 a.m. phone call he believes it’s “best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity” to become the nominee.

Multiple Romney aides confirmed that text of his planned remarks during an 11 a.m. call with supporters posted online by radio host Hugh Hewitt are accurate, and that Romney will “do whatever I can” to elect the GOP nominee, but will not run himself.

The call comes as Romney has faced deep skepticism from some quarters of the Republican party over his interest in another run for president. His surprise announcement to donors earlier this month that he’s interested in making another run for the White House upended the developing 2016 GOP primary field, freezing Republican staff and donors who were torn between their loyalties to the 2012 nominee and a new crop of potential contenders.

Even some former supporters and campaign officials expressed concerns that Romney wasn’t the best option to take on expected Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whom the GOP plans to portray as old news and out of touch — both characterizations that could dog the former Massachusetts governor if he runs again as well.

A longtime supporter, who spoke with Romney in the past week, says “he knows because of all the pressure out there” he needs to be definitive sooner rather than later. By pressure, the supporter, who was not aware of Romney’s decision Friday, says he means the pressure from others, mostly but not just former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to sign up donors and key operatives and activists.

The decision this week of a top Romney operative in Iowa to sign up with Bush’s campaign was the latest in a series of defections, raising doubts on Romney’s chances going forward.