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Mitt Romney told several donors on Friday that he's seriously considering a third run for the White House, a change for the 2012 GOP nominee after months of insisting his career in politics is over.
Romney attended a private gathering of donors at the New York offices of Woody Johnson, a leading Romney donor in 2012 and owner of the New York Jets, two people with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.
Both spoke under condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the private discussions. The meeting was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The news from Romney comes as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush marches swiftly toward a 2016 bid of his own, which threatens to win much of the support from the Republican establishment that fueled Romney's last campaign. Some donors who gave to Romney have already privately committed to Bush, who has spent recent weeks hosting private fundraising meetings across the country.
While the first primary contests in the 2016 race are roughly a year away, and no one has formally declared their candidacy, more than a dozen high-profile candidates are considering getting into the race.
In addition to Johnson, Friday's meeting with Romney included Emil Henry Jr., an assistant treasury secretary in Bush administration; Alexander Navab, of the financial firm KKR; Patrick Durkin, a managing director at Barclays; Clifford Sobel, managing partner of Valor Capital Group; and Edward C. Forst, CEO at Cushman & Wakefield.
Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008 and 2012, has repeatedly insisted he would not run again.
At a political rally in New Hampshire last summer, Romney said he would "get behind the one who I think has the best chance of winning."
"We'll get someone who can win," he added.