Romney insists he won't be a candidate in 2016

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Mitt Romney general - updated 5/19/2015
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Romney insists he won't be a candidate in 2016
Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield fight in a charity boxing event on May 15, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event was held to raise money for 'Charity Vision' a charity that aims to restore sight to the blind and visually impaired. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Mitt Romney Visits 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' at Rockefeller Center on March 25, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon')
Mitt Romney is greeted by fellow Republicans at a dinner during the Republican National Committee's Annual Winter Meeting aboard the USS Midway on January 16, 2015 in San Diego, California. Romney is contemplating a possible 2016 presidential run. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses the crowd during a rally for Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan at a PenAir airplane hangar on November 3, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska. The U.S. Senate race in Alaska between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich and Republican candidate Dan Sullivan continues to be closely contested. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
Former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney makes his way through supporters of Iowa Republican State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst on October 11, 2014 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Ernst and Romney met with around 300 supporters at the event, one of many in the final weeks of Ernst's campaign for a U.S. Senate seat. U.S. Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Ernst are virtually tied in polling to replace the seat occupied by retiring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)
Governor Charlie Baker was sworn in as the governor of Massachusetts at a ceremony inside the House Chamber at the State House on January 8, 2015. Mitt Romney greets Chris Christie after Gov. Baker's swearing in. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Mitt Romney attends the New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins game at MetLife Stadium on December 1, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney walks to the stage during a rally for Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan at a PenAir airplane hangar on November 3, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska. The U.S. Senate race in Alaska between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich and Republican candidate Dan Sullivan continues to be closely contested. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
Former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, delivers remarks during a 'CoMITT to the Comeback' rally for Michigan republican candidates October 2, 2014 in Livonia, Michigan. Among the Michigan candidates in attendance were U.S. Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a political rally for Republican candidate for Colorado Governor Bob Beauprez, at Heritage High School, in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo., Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. Romney criticized Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper during a rally in which he cheered on GOP candidates for governor and Congress. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee, addresses a crowd of supporters while introducing New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown at a farm in Stratham, N.H., Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Brown, who is facing incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, was endorsed by Romney at the event. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets the lunch crowd at the Varsity, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Atlanta. Romney attended a private fundraiser for Republican candidate for Senate David Perdue earlier. Romney is the Republican man in demand. The twice-defeated White House contender is campaigning across seven states in five days this week to raise money and energy for Republican midterm candidates. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Ann Romney and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney attend the 3rd Annual NFL Honors at Radio City Music Hall on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 08: Former Republican presidential candiate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sits ringside fro the Patrick Hyland and Javier Fortuna WBA interim featherweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee, kisses a supporter while campaigning for New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown, right, at a farm in Stratham, N.H., Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Brown, who is facing incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, was endorsed by Romney at the event. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2012, file photo, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, center, joined by wife Ann, right, talks with an unidentified spectator at ringside prior to a welterweight fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao title fight in Las Vegas. Romney has emerged from nearly four months in seclusion for an interview with Fox News. He’s also scheduled to deliver his first postelection speech this month at Washington’s Conservative Political Action Conference. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE - This Nov. 7, 2012 file photo shows Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waving to supporters at an election night rally in Boston. Romney’s shadow looms over a GOP in disarray. Republican officials in Washington and elsewhere concede that Romney’s immediate withdrawal from politics _ while welcome by most _ has created a leadership void, leaving the GOP rudderless and fighting with itself during what may be the most important policy debate in a generation. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pauses as he addresses campaign workers while visiting a campaign call center in Green Tree, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney emerge after they voted in Belmont, Mass., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and wife Ann Romney vote in Belmont, Mass., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to a crowd gathered at a nearby parking lot after his campaign plane arrived at Moon Township Pittsburgh International Airport in Coraopolis, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gets a hug from Emma Nemecek, of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, during a rally for Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, Friday, May 30, 2014, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives on stage on election night November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts, moments before conceding defeat to US President Barack Obama in the 2012 US presidential election. AFP PHOTO/EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
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STRATHAM, N.H. (AP) - Returning to the same New Hampshire farm where he launched his last presidential campaign, Mitt Romney on Wednesday insisted he would not pursue a third White House bid but called on voters to punish President Barack Obama by giving Republicans the Senate majority this fall.

"I know that the president is not on the ballot this November, but the people of New Hampshire have a chance to vote on what they think about the president's agenda," Romney told hundreds of people gathered under a beating sun as he endorsed former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's New Hampshire Senate campaign.

Romney criticized Brown's opponent, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, as a "Simon Says senator" who blindly follows Obama's wishes.

The day was supposed to be focused on Brown's quest to defeat Shaheen this fall, part of a larger Republican push to pick up the six seats needed to claim the Senate majority for the final two years of Obama's presidency. But Romney's return to the state where he began and ended his last presidential campaign loomed over the event.

The rally took place at Scamman's Bittersweet Farm, the same location where the former Massachusetts governor formally launched his second presidential campaign three years earlier.

"We had an election in 2012 in which clearly the wrong person won," former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu said to cheers.

Romney was mobbed by supporters - some wore T-shirts from his last campaign - after his brief remarks. Several people encouraged him to launch another presidential campaign. As he has done consistently in recent months, Romney insisted he had no interest. He said the Republican Party would likely have 14 or 15 candidates to pick from.

"I'm going to get behind the one who I think has the best chance of winning," he said and later added, "We'll get someone who can win."

Romney dominated his Republican opponents in New Hampshire's 2012 presidential primary on his way to capturing the GOP nomination, but he lost to Obama by more than 5 percentage points in the general election.

Democrats criticized Romney's visit, his first public appearance in the state since the early hours of Election Day 2012.

"Scott, we have news for you," state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a message aimed at Brown. "Mitt Romney has no credibility in New Hampshire. ... We haven't forgotten his '47 percent' comments."

Buckley referred to comments Romney made in the last campaign that Obama had the support of the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes and who consider themselves "victims" and don't "take personal responsibility and care for their lives." His campaign never fully recovered from the intense criticism his comments sparked.

Romney's loss to Obama effectively pushed him into political exile. But he has been playing a growing role in national Republican affairs ahead of the November midterm elections. So far this year, he has endorsed more than 30 candidates running for statewide office or for Congress in two dozen states, although he has appeared publicly in only a handful.

Brown noted Romney's special relationship with New Hampshire, where the former Massachusetts governor has a summer home.

"New Hampshire knows Mitt Romney very, very well, and not just because he won the presidential primary here," he said. "We know him as the upright and capable man who we wish were president right now."

Brown's advisers see Romney as a unifying force for New Hampshire Republicans still divided about Brown's candidacy. The former Massachusetts senator formally moved to the state several months ago. And his moderate positions on social issues and gun laws irk some conservatives.

Asked whether he still had the presidential "bug" ahead of 2016, Romney kept the focus on Brown.

"I got the bug to help Scott - that's about it," he said.
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