Former Romney campaign co-chair 'not happy' with interest in 2016

Story highlights

  • Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign co-chair is "not happy" about his interest in 2016
  • "There's not a lot of good precedent" for someone running successfully a third time, he said
  • Romney's expressed interest has prompted criticism from all quarters

(CNN)Mitt Romney sparked a firestorm of criticism from Republicans when he announced his interest in running for president again, and now he's taking further friendly fire — from within his own circle of former aides.

Two former top Romney campaign aides panned another Romney run, with one, Romney's former Florida campaign manager Brett Doster, backing Jeb Bush instead.
Vin Weber, a co-chair for Romney's 2012 bid, told Bloomberg Politics in an interview that aired Thursday afternoon that he's not decided on who he'll support in 2016 and he's "not happy" about the former Massachusetts governor's reemergence onto the presidential politics scene.
    "I'm not happy, frankly, with the way that he's chosen to re-enter presidential politics, and I think his friends need to be honest with him about that," he said.
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    "He's a great man, he would be a great president but there's not a lot of good precedent for somebody losing the election and coming back four years later and becoming the nominee."
    Weber referenced former New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, who ran unsuccessfully for president three times and unexpectedly lost what many believed to be an easily winnable race in 1948 to Democratic President Harry Truman.
    "It didn't work out too well," Weber said of that bid.
    And Doster said in an email reported by that "Mitt Romney was a great leader for our party in 2012...but Jeb is my man, and Florida is Jeb Bush country."
    Romney's announcement to donors that he's seriously looking at another run for president shocked GOP leaders and operatives, including many of his former staffers and supporters.
    Some of Romney's top aides, however, are loudly on-board for another run. Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime Romney aide and his top campaign advisor in 2012, tweeted out poll numbers showing Romney polling way ahead of the pack.
    Indeed, Romney's experienced a renaissance since losing to President Barack Obama in 2012, with his image rebounding and the GOP looking to him as a de-facto leader on many issues.
    But his interest in running for president has sparked a wide array of criticism, both from his potential rivals and some of the party's most prominent voices, including the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
    Weber acknowledged that the period following the 2012 campaign has been good for Romney, but noted that the conversation surrounding the former Massachusetts governor has shifted since his interest in the 2016 race became known.
    "I think that Governor Romney had two increasingly good years after losing the presidency, and now he's had one pretty bad week," he said.