First on CNN: Mitt Romney to campaign in key North Carolina race next week

Mitt Romney will attend a rally for North Carolina Republican Senate nominee Thom Tillis next week.

Story highlights

  • Mitt Romney to attend a Thom Tillis rally next week in North Carolina
  • Sources: Romney cool on third presidential bid, but is listening to people who want him in the race
  • "A lot of people in Romneyland are rooting for him to get in"
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is heading to North Carolina next week to campaign with Republican Senate nominee Thom Tillis, CNN has learned. This comes as GOP officials believe Tillis, the North Carolina House Speaker, has closed the gap in his race against endangered incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan.
Romney, who won North Carolina in the 2012 general election, is scheduled to attend a rally with Tillis in Raleigh next Wednesday, which "will be a big shot of momentum" for the campaign in the closing days, campaign manager Jordan Shaw told CNN.
Tillis allies believe they have gained some support following the controversy surrounding Hagan admitting she missed a classified briefing on ISIS and other security threats to attend a fundraiser. That revelation, prompted by questioning from CNN producer Ted Barrett, prompted Hagan then to attack her opponent on missing legislative work in favor of fundraising.
The race for the North Carolina seat is expected to be the most expensive Senate contest this election year and is key for the Democrats if they hope to hold onto control of the Senate.
Romney is one of the Republicans' most sought after surrogates as he crisscrosses the country campaigning with Senate and gubernatorial candidates and repeatedly having to answer whether or not he would be interested in a third run for president. He has said repeatedly this month "I'm not running." He appeared with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter on Wednesday and is planning on campaigning with Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, who is locked in a tough re-election race, next week.
Two sources inside Mitt Romney's inner circle told CNN last month while he isn't planning a presidential bid, he's listening to a lot of people who want him to get in the race, although he remains skeptical himself. While these sources said that, as of today, it's not likely Romney would run, it can't be ruled out entirely -- and if the early seeding were to produce a weak field, Romney might be in a positioin to be a late entrant.
"A lot of people in Romneyland are rooting for him to get in," said one source. "He's not one of them."
Another source close to Romney put it this way: "I wouldn't bet on it, but I wouldn't bet either."