Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he thinks 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will run for president again in 2016 and that he will win, despite the former Massachusetts governor repeatedly dismissing such speculation.
“I think he actually is gonna run for president,” Chaffetz told host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Monday. “He probably doesn’t want me to say that.”
Romney has re-emerged recently, including campaigning for Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown in New Hampshire, the state which holds the first primary in the nation.
Romney was strongly criticized on the right for being insufficiently conservative and unable to motivate the base in 2012.
But Chaffetz, who has been a mostly reliable conservative, was a major supporter of Romney early on in 2011 – surprising some, since Chaffetz served as chief of staff for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was among the GOP candidates challenging Romney.
“A hundred times he says he’s not, but Mitt Romney has always accomplished what he’s set out to do. I think he’s proven right on a lot of stuff. I happen to be in the camp that thinks he’s actually going to run, and I think he will be the next president of the United States,” Chaffetz said.
Romney is routinely criticized by conservative commentators; likely 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has said the GOP has made mistakes nominating moderates like Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Still, 45 percent of Americans recently said they believe the country would have been better off had Romney been elected in 2012, according to a Quinnipiac University poll last week. The same poll found 38 percent said they thought the country would be worse off. The party breakdown is not unexpected, as 84 percent of Republicans believe the country would have been better with Romney, and 74 percent of Democrats believe the country would be worse off.