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Romney opens door, will it be Mitt vs Hillary Clinton in 2016 campaign?

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After nearly a year of questioning and recent prodding by party donors and faithful the 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is now leaving the door open and suggesting there might be a chance that he could run again in the 2016 presidential campaign. Romney appeared on "The Hugh Hewitt Show" on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 where the radio host became the most recent media personality to ask Romney if he has any plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The news media has questioned Romney numerous times since the November 2013 release of the documentary "Mitt," showing the personal behind the scenes look at Romney and his 2012 campaign about his plans for 2016. Recently Romney has actively been campaigning, fundraising, endorsing Republicans candidates for the midterm elections, and giving interviews. His constant present in the limelight all seem like early signs of a potential candidate testing the waters, and recent polls and Republicans donors are boosting Romney's chances, moral and prospects in 2016.

Romney's answer left a glimmer of possibility that he might run for president in 2016 if the "circumstances" were optimal for him to win in his third attempt for the presidency. Romney responded to Hewitt; "Circumstances can change, but I'm just not going to let my head go there. I had the chance of running. I didn't win. Someone else has a better chance than I do. And that's what we believe, and that's why I'm not running." Continuing after some prodding by Hewitt, Romney lets the chance be known; "There you go, you remember. You're telling me I have a chance? That's one of a million."

Romney's former running mate and 2012 Vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan spoke about Romney and 2016 campaign on Sunday, Aug. 24 on CBS' "Face the Nation." Saying; "I sure wish he would. I think he'd make a phenomenal president. He has the intellect, the honor, the character and the temperament to be a fantastic president. … But he keeps saying that he's not going to run."

Just the week before in a joint interview with Paul Ryan on Fox News and an interview "appearance" at Chicago's Union League Club on Thursday, Aug. 21 Romney passed the baton to Ryan for 2016. In the appearance Romney said; "If you get the chance to run for president, do it." Ryan however, prodded Romney to try again responding, "The third time is the charm." In the Fox interview, Romney commented on Ryan's praise that he would make the better president of the two, stating, "He's very generous, but I had my turn. It's his turn now."

Romney has an advantage over all other prospective Republican presidential candidates and he would probably lock up the nomination early on. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 gave Romney an extremely comfortable lead in the first primary state, Iowa. In that poll, Romney would have the votes of 35 percent of Republicans in the Iowa Caucus while none of the 14 potential candidates even cracks above nine percent, with Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor the closest competition.

Another poll, conducted by Suffolk University/Boston Herald gauging the potential vote in New Hampshire published in the middle of June showed that Romney commanded a lead of Republican candidates with 24 percent, in that poll as with the Iowa one the next candidate placed with only nine percent; this time is was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Romney however, believes that someone "not defined yet" and younger, "perhaps … from the next generation" would be better off as the party's nominee, expressing that "someone else has a better chance than I do. And that's what we believe, and that's why I'm not running."

Romney commended many of the potential Republican field he is crushing in the polls, saying; "There are people who are not yet known by the American public who have extraordinary records, great capability, Paul Ryan being one of them, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio. Of course, people are getting to know Chris Christie. Jeb Bush - they don't know Jeb Bush as the governor of Florida, and the kind of record he has and had there. These are people who I think have the potential to really ignite interest in our party and potentially win the general [election]." Of the potential GOP candidates Romney mentions Scott Walker and Chris Christie who are under investigations, while the remainder do not statistically have much of a chance according to the polls.

The American public has warmed to Romney after seeing the "Mitt" documentary that showed a more warmer and personal side to the 2012 GOP candidate than he showed on the campaign trail. American voters also see he was right on a number of issues in the campaign that President Barack Obama ridiculed as out of touch including foreign policy threats in Syria and Russia and the economy.

Many Americans now have "buyer's remorse" about voting in President Obama again for a second term with a decisive Electoral College vote margin of 332 to 206 and a popular vote of 51% to 47%. In a recent CNN/ORC International poll released on July 27 showed Americans votes would now be reversed with Romney winning with 53 percent of the vote and Obama would only get 44 percent. A similar poll conducted by ABC News/Washington Post in November 2013 a year after the election began to show voters thought they were wrong not to vote in Romney giving him an edge of 49 to 45 percent.

One of the main obstacles in Romney's way is Hillary Clinton, who although has yet to announce her candidacy is considered the front-runner by a large margin in most polls for the Democratic presidential nomination. After her recent book tour for her memoir "Hard Choices" about being Obama's Secretary of State and comments about her wealth and being "dead broke" in 2001 after her husband former President Bill Clinton left the White House have dimmed Democratic enthusiasm towards Clinton with her numbers falling among proposed voters from the high 50s to the low 50s. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland believes "The more likely explanation is that the book tour hurt Clinton - if it did so - not because of any specific comments that she made but because more Americans now view her as an active candidate for the White House."

Romney is also worried that he would not beat Hillary in the general election, telling Hewitt "Had I believed I would actually be best positioned to beat Hillary Clinton, then I would be running." Romney has some reason to be concerned recent polls show Clinton in the lead over every possible Republican nominee even Romney. Romney however, still had the best showing of the lot.

The same CNN/ORC International poll from July 27 looked at a potential Clinton Romney match-up, with Romney not faring as well. Romney would only receive 42 percent of the popular vote to Clinton overwhelming 55 percent. Holland commented on the difference between Obama or Clinton vs. Romney, explaining; "Politically speaking, there is an interesting group of people who would not vote for Obama but would pick Clinton over Romney. It turns out that nearly seven in ten of them are women, and 56% are Independents."

Romney would actually like to run again, admitting to Hewitt that he enjoyed the process; "I know this is hard for a lot of people to recognize, but frankly, I'd love to run for president. I loved running for president." It seems like the "circumstances" that will determine Romney's decision to run again revolve around the Hillary factor, if she truly runs or if his numbers improve in polls against her. Clinton herself is facing pressure from her party to make intentions clearer if she will run for president, hoping that she will do so right after the midterm elections in November rather than wait into 2015, further freezing the potential 2016 Democratic field.

No matter what after nearly 10 times of being asked if he would run in 2016, Romney's answers and recent actions sound more like a potential candidate than not. With so many scandal filled candidates in the potential line-up the GOP would be wise to keep on the pressure on Romney, because he would be the best and most decent candidate they could recruit for 2016.

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Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.

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