Romney stole the show of potential 2016 candidates this weekend, telling donors and operatives that he's looking at 2016
Paul Ryan declared officially that he won't seek the presidency in 2016
Meanwhile Scott Walker is building up a 2016 operation, while Mike Huckabee releases a book
One’s out and another looks like he’s back in. And another is building up his 2016 team.
The 2016 Republican presidential field has been shaping up in more ways than one in the last week. Here’s who’s stirring the pot, and what they’re mixing in:
Romney, Romney … Romney?
A week after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spent his time locking in support from the Republican establishment’s top GOP donors, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney set fire to the political world on Friday when he signaled to a roomful of donors that he’s seriously considering a 2016 presidential bid.
Romney is giving more than just a cursory glance at his 2016 presidential prospects. After meeting with prospective donors, Romney reportedly spent the weekend phoning former operatives and backers, signaling that he’s not kidding about a three-peat presidential campaign.
Romney is also headed to a Republican National Committee meeting near San Diego this week, a get together that will include other potential 2016ers including Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The former nominee’s moves over the weekend are the surest sign yet that he will enter what is expected to be a competitive fray of Republican contenders duking it out for the nomination. The buzz comes months after Romney kicked up speculation this summer when he gave several interviews suggesting that while a 2016 run was unlikely, it wasn’t completely out of the question.
And Romney’s wife, who went back and forth this summer on whether Romney 2016 was a possibility – ultimately settling on “we never say never” – is now reportedly on board. It’s Romney’s sons who are split, according to sources who spoke with Romney this weekend.
The move could set up a battle of political heavyweights between the Romney and Bush operations – one few expected just last week.
Chris Christie launching PAC
Fresh off his State of the State speech, The New York Times broke the news Tuesday night that the New Jersey governor is preparing to set up a leadership political action committee as soon as this month to finance his political travel and allow him to begin fundraising. It’ll likely be run by Phil Cox, who worked with Christie at the Republican Governors Association.
Meanwhile, well-known New York businessman and GOP fundraiser Ken Langone is hosting a dinner next week that will allow Christie to discuss his plans with major donors. Christie will follow that dinner with a trip to the Iowa Freedom Summit, a conservative event hosted by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
Rand Paul taps campaign manager
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is hiring Chip Englander to run his likely 2016 presidential campaign – while Doug Stafford will remain Paul’s chief political adviser.
The hiring of Englander, a California political veteran who ran Republican Bruce Rauner’s successful bid for the Illinois governor’s office in 2014, gives Paul a veteran hand who has won in blue states.
Paul Ryan a no-go
As Romney is jumping back in, his former running mate Rep. Paul Ryan is shutting down speculation over a presidential run of his own.
“After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided not to run for president,” Ryan said Monday in a statement, pointing instead to his focus as the new chair of the House Ways and Means Committee as his priority.
Ryan insisted despite the conspicuous timing that he came to a decision over the holidays, well before Romney seized headlines this weekend with talk of another run. Ryan has been a steadfast Romney supporter since before the former Massachusetts governor tapped him as his vice presidential pick.
Walker makes moves
The governor of Wisconsin, widely viewed as a rising Republican star, is set to launch a new political organization in the coming weeks, laying the groundwork for a potential presidential campaign.
Walker brought on a national political strategist who would serve as his campaign manager in the event of a potential run, GOP sources told CNN’s Peter Hamby.
And remember, he’ll be headed to the RNC meeting, too, this week.
But like a pair of other Republican governors with presidential ambitions, Walker could face some questions on his handling of his state’s economy in an eventual campaign.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is giving America a taste of a classic pre-presidential campaign move: he’s releasing a new book.
Huckabee’s book, “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” hits stores next week, but a sneak peak reveals an interesting mishmash of insight into Huckabee’s brain. The release comes after Huckabee quit his Fox News show earlier this month to give a 2016 campaign a serious look.
The book’s got everything from musings on Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé to an explanation of his views on homosexuality and even his thoughts on his potential 2016 rivals.
So, Jeb Bush didn’t have the best week after Romney swooped in and stole some of his thunder – and nearly all of the headlines.
But Bush did give donors a glimpse at what his 2016 operation would look like during his first fundraiser for his new Leadership PAC, “Right to Rise.” A few snippets include promoting a muscular American foreign policy and his plan to pursue a diverse electorate.
The tea party conservative who has been inching toward a presidential run took some heat last week over plagiarism allegations.
Carson apologized after he was caught lifting material from unattributed sources in his book, America the Beautiful.
“I attempted to appropriately cite and acknowledge all sources in America the Beautiful, but inadvertently missed some. I apologize, and I am working with my editors to rectify the situation,” Carson said in a statement to CNN.
…What about the Democrats?
Efforts to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren are still underway, former Virginia Gov. Jim Webb is breaking in a new knee and Hillary Clinton hasn’t made a public appearance in almost a month.
As the Republican field keeps shifting, Democrats are left wondering…what field?
Progressive groups are holding a rally on Saturday in an effort to get Warren to jump in, but the liberal senator is looking more like she won’t run in 2016, giving Fortune magazine a flat “no” when asked whether she’ll run for President – her most decisive answer yet.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wants voters to know he’s not out of the running, though. He told an audience on Thursday that he is “seriously considering” a presidential run.