Mitt Romney: ‘Bush-versus-Clinton head-to-head would be too easy for the Democrats’

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Senate candidate Connie Mack on board his campaign plane in 2012.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Senate candidate Connie Mack on board his campaign plane in 2012. –Stephen Crowley / The New York Times

Remember almost a year ago when Mitt Romney was seriously considering running for president for a third time in 2016?

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, the former Republican Massachusetts governor explained the reason why:

Jeb Bush.

Specifically, Romney had doubts that the former Florida governor could win.

“A Bush-versus-[Hillary] Clinton head-to-head would be too easy for the Democrats,’’ he told the Post in an interview looking back at the Republican Party’s year in politics.

From the Post:

Romney believed that, if he passed on the race, Bush would be the most likely nominee. Privately, he harbored serious doubts about Bush’s ability to beat Clinton. He recalled thinking, “I like Jeb a lot, I think he’d be a great president, but felt he was unfairly but severely burdened by the W. years — and when I say the W. years, it’s not only what happened to the economy, but the tragedy in Iraq.’’

Romney even said as much to Bush directly in a private meeting in Utah — about a week before Romney decided not to run — telling Bush he wouldn’t be able to escape “the difficulty of the W. years and compare them with the Clinton years,’’ he recalled to the Post. Bush responded that he would make his campaign about the future.

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“I didn’t say anything at that point,’’ Romney told to the Post. “But as he left, I said to myself, ‘Gosh, in my opinion, it’s not going to be as easy to make that separation as I think he gives the impression it will be.’ One of the few things I predicted that turned out to be true.’’

Indeed. Bush, despite a huge early fundraising advantage, is lagging far behind the Republican leaders in both national and earlystate polls.

Read the Post’s full GOP year-in-review here. They also pulled out the Romney-related material for a separate post Monday morning.

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