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Romney's return to public life stokes speculation about potential 2016 run


FILE: March 15, 2013: Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. (REUTERS)

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has sworn off running again for elected office, but Americans have certainly heard that one before.

Speculation that Romney might run again has largely been stoked by the reunion he planned to host last month in Park City, Utah, for members of his 2012 campaign and debate teams and a string of recent public appearances.

He has appeared on TV news shows 12 times in the past six months. That’s essentially on pace with Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, who led all national politicians last year with 26 appearances over 12 months.

Romney has repeatedly said he won’t run again, saying infamously in the Netflix movie “Mitt” about a nominee who loses a White House bid: “They become a loser. It’s over.”

And a few weeks ago, he gave CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer a flat out “no.”

Still, no potential 2016 presidential candidate has yet to say whether he or she will run, including presumptive Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who up until last year also said she was done with public office.

“He very well could [run again,] but it doesn’t seem likely,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said of Romney. “You’ll likely find that he’ll be most effective using his political and business savvy on the outside, rather than the inside.”

One possible exception, Bonjean argues, is Romney getting a Cabinet post should Republicans win the White House in 2016. “He’d be a prime candidate for Treasury secretary,” he said.

Top 2012 Romney advisers Kevin Madden, Eric Fehrnstrom and Stuart Stevens also have stayed mum, not responding earlier this week to requests for comment by

Surveys by the group found Romney’s favorability among Americans has climbed steadily since his November 2012 loss to President Obama, with his February 14 rating at 47 percent.

Beyond just tallying Romney’s increasing public appearances, including one last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, political observers point out that Republicans have no clear frontrunner, like the Democrats have with Clinton, especially since perhaps their best hope, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has been hurt by the so-called "Bridgegate scandal." 

Washington Republicans have turned to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but his measured response has only added to the speculation about Romney. 

In addition, observers say Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is certainly talking like somebody mounting a comeback fight.

"There's no question [about] the president's naiveté with regards to Russia," he also told CBS. “And his faulty judgment about Russia's intentions and objectives has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face.”