Mitt Romney Not Running for President in 2016: Fellow Pols React

Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and others weigh in.

January 30, 2015, 1:51 PM

— -- Mitt Romney spent the past few weeks hinting that he might be considering another bid for the White House -- so his announcement this morning that he would not run for president in 2016 caught many by surprise.

Here's how some of the people who might have run against Romney reacted to his official announcement:

Potential 2016ers Weigh In

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- also thought to be considering a White House bid -- called the 2012 GOP nominee “a patriot.”

“I join many in hoping his days of serving our nation and our party are not over,” Bush wrote on Facebook. “I look forward to working with him to ensure all Americans have a chance to rise up.”

The two met in Utah earlier this month, fueling speculation that they discussed the 2016 contest. Party pundits had feared pitting the two candidates against one another would divide the Republican establishment. (Bush, however, told reporters they “put aside ... awkward” talk of a potential match-up.)

The Florida governor wasn’t the only likely 2016 candidate to weigh in on Romney’s announcement.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who trolled Bush and Romney on Twitter earlier this month, said he wished Romney and his wife, Ann, the best.

“I hope to work together with Mitt to grow our party and lead our country forward,” Paul wrote.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was rumored to be in the running to be Romney’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, said in a statement to ABC News, “Over the past two years, there hasn't been a day when I didn't think that Mitt Romney would have been a better president than Barack Obama.”

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Mitt and campaigning for him, was grateful for his support in my Senate race, and I know what a difficult decision this must be given his love of our country,” he added. “He certainly earned the right to consider running, so I deeply respect his decision to give the next generation a chance to lead.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he spoke with Romney this afternoon to thank him "for his interest in opening the door for fresh leadership in America."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Mitt and the entire Romney family "embodied graciousness, decency, and dedication to our nation."

Romney "worked tirelessly in 2008 and 2012 to try to turn our country around," Cruz wrote on facebook.

And Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who competed against Romney for the 2008 nomination, thanked Romney for his leadership and said he could “understand and respect his decision not to run.”

Former New York Gov. George Pataki mused that Romney would have made “a great president.”

Romney's 2012 running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who officially announced earlier this month that he would not seek the GOP nomination in 2016, also said Romney would have been a "great president."

"I respect his & Ann's decision," Ryan tweeted, "and will work with him to move our party forward in 2016."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, tweeted that Romney made his announcement today with "class & grace."

Even President George H.W. Bush chimed in with a compliment for the 2012 nominee:

But one Republican wasn't quite so complimentary:

"I will take full credit for Mitt Romney dropping out of the race," tweeted real estate mogul Donald Trump, who slammed Romney at a high-profile GOP gathering in Iowa last week.

"When I broadly proclaimed Mitt 'choked' – and would do it again — everybody said yeah, he’s right," Trump said in another tweet.

Democrats Sound Off:

Democrats, too, were generally less effusive about Romney.

At a Democratic retreat in Philadelphia today, according to The Washington Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Romney a “wonderful American,” and added, “I don’t want to make a joke about his candidacy.”

Other Democrats chimed in on Twitter:

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