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The meeting was convened in Manhattan on Romney’s behalf for a group of New York-based backers who have continued to express interest in Romney running again. It was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The former Massachusetts governor used the occasion to modify public and private statements he’s made about not being interested in running again.
Almost exactly one year ago Romney categorically ruled out another run, telling The New York Times, "Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no.”
“People are always gracious and say, ‘Oh, you should run again,’” he said in the Jan. 2014 interview. “I’m not running again.”
But now, associates said he felt it was time to deliver a different message -- to keep his options open.
“He’s sharing that he’s thinking about it – that he’s simply thinking about it,” one source close to Romney said. “He wanted to be up front with his biggest supporters.”
“He is giving it consideration,” the source said. “He is considering it, for sure.”
Romney associates say he’s been hearing consistently from supporters that he should be president now, and should run again. The sources said there is no timeline for deciding, and they maintain that Romney has more wiggle room than others because he’s run twice before, he can build an organization anew.
Another source said of today’s meeting: “He’s listening to people, rather than being dismissive. He’s definitely listening.”
In an interview with ABC News before news of Romney’s comments to donors were made public, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, predicted Romney would win if he ran a third time.
“I’d like to see him run again, I’d like to see him very badly run again,” Hatch told ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny. “If he did decide to run, this third time, he’d win.”
Earlier this year, an organization named “Draft Mitt” tried to coax the former candidate into another White House bid. But Romney told NBC in June that “talk of a draft is kind of silly.”
By October, Romney was already changing his tune, telling the The New York Times, “We’ll see what happens.”
ABC’s Erin Dooley and Arlette Saenz contributed reporting.