[WASHINGTON] Mitt Romney, the Republican US presidential nominee in 2012, told a meeting of donors on Friday that he is considering another White House run in 2016, a source familiar with the comments said.
The former Massachusetts governor told a small group of donors in New York that he was thinking about running and to "tell your friends" he was considering it, the source said.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the comments, said Romney did not give a timetable for making a decision about whether to launch what would be his third presidential campaign.
Romney failed to win the nomination in 2008 then lost the general election to President Barack Obama in 2012.
Romney's statement comes as some of the party's top donors begin to line up behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said in December he would actively explore a presidential run. If Romney entered the race, he would be competing with Bush for many of the party's most established major donors.
Romney has equivocated about another presidential campaign in his public comments, going from absolutely ruling it out after his 2012 loss to sending more mixed signals recently. The comments in New York appear to be his most open admission that he is seriously considering it.
The Journal said one of the attendees at the meeting asked Romney if he wanted to be president, and he said "yes, of course." Romney's entrance in the race would dramatically reshape what promises to be a crowded and competitive field. Polls show him at or near the top of the Republican race along with Bush.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee left his Fox News show over the weekend to ponder a bid. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich, are other possible candidates.
There remains great skepticism among key Republican Party figures that Romney, 67, will actually run, however. "I just think a lot of the money has already drifted away to other candidates," a former Romney adviser said.
Many Romney donors said after Bush's announcement that Romney would be less likely to launch a campaign now, since he and Bush would compete for the same support.