Mitt Romney has decided he will not run for president again.
The 67-year-old Republican was beaten by President Barack Obama in the US 2012 election.
Mitt Romney said he had decided it was “best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee”.
His statement comes weeks after a surprise announcement saying he was considering another bid.
The decision not to run frees up donors to support other Republican candidates.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul are among those who are considering a White House bid.
On the Democratic side, the presumed front-runner is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although she has not made any announcement about campaigning.
Hillary Clinton previously ran for president in 2008 but lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.
Mitt Romney’s campaign raised more than $1 billion in the 2012 election, when he unsuccessfully challenged President Barack Obama.
He also lost the 2008 Republican nomination to Senator John McCain.
In a statement made during a phone call to donors, Mitt Romney said he was “convinced that we could win the nomination”, but added that “one of our next generation of Republican leaders… may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee”.
Mitt Romney said it was a tough decision for him and his wife, Ann, “but we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation”.
He reportedly discovered after floating a potential run three weeks ago that several of his key fundraisers had decided to support Jeb Bush, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Jeb Bush – the son of a former president and brother of another – announced in December he was “exploring” a run.
After Mitt Romney’s announcement Jeb Bush tweeted: “Mitt is a patriot and I join many in hoping his days of serving our nation and our party are not over.”
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According to recent reports, Mitt Romney has been reviving his national network of political supporters and donors for a third run at the White House in 2016.
One Republican source told the Washington Post the defeated 2012 candidate “almost certainly will” launch a 2016 presidential campaign.
Last week Mitt Romney told Republican donors in New York he was interested in running.
If he does, he could be up against Jeb Bush for the party nomination and then Hillary Clinton in a general election.
The Washington media is abuzz with reports that Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, has spent the past few days reaching out to political allies and potential sources of campaign funding.
The Post reports that Mitt Romeny’s wife Ann has come round to the idea, although there are still some reservations among his five sons.
Few families can know as well as the Romneys what is involved.
In 2008, their father and husband won some of the Republican primary contests but was beaten by John McCain.
Four years later, Mitt Romney fell at the final hurdle, losing in the presidential election to Barack Obama, who decisively secured victory and his second term.
Mitt Romney’s campaign was criticized for alienating Hispanics and not connecting sufficiently with ordinary people.
According to Politico, Mitt Romney is determined to learn from past mistakes and is thinking about making helping the poor a central theme of any campaign.
Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and brother of former president, George W. Bush, declared he is actively exploring a potential run.
Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush could be competing both for the same financial backers and for the Republican middle ground.
2016 possible candidates
No-one has formally declared but these are some of the names to watch:
- Jeb Bush
- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
- Texas Senator Ted Cruz
- Elizabeth Warren
- Rand Paul
- Hillary Clinton [youtube qB9ci3cawLc 650]