Count Mitt out: Romney says he won’t run again

“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” Romney said in a statement that he read to supporters in a conference call from New York.

The decision by the former Bain Capital executive leaves Jeb Bush as the only other former private equity professional seeking the Republican nomination for President. As Buyouts previously reported, Bush, who chairs energy private equity specialist Britton Hill Holdings, met with execs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts on Jan. 7 to discuss a possible presidential run.

Romney three weeks ago told a private donors meeting in New York that he might jump into the race. In his statement on Friday, he said the reaction to his potential candidacy was both surprising and heartening and noted his leading position in some polls.

“So I am convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been a difficult test and a hard fight,” Romney said.

Romney would have faced stiff competition for donors from rivals such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and more than a dozen other Republicans who are considering the party’s 2016 nomination.

In his statement, Romney said he still believed he would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democratic nominee because of his message of “making the world safer” and improving the U.S. economy for the middle class.

“You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president,” he said.

He said it is a tough decision for him and his wife Ann, “but we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting and editing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Michael Perry)

Additional reporting and editing for Buyouts by Lawrence Aragon