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Romney insists he won't be a candidate in 2016

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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frankdodgee July 02 2014 at 6:41 PM

Everything Romney says is true. He should have been President instead of the snake!

Flag Reply +99 rate up
45 replies
grassyno July 02 2014 at 6:39 PM

he's sure looking good, especially since the latest poll showed Obama is considered the worst president ever, even behind Bush and Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

Flag Reply +95 rate up
48 replies
lawless.obama.government July 02 2014 at 7:25 PM

Mitt Romney would have been
God sent for America.
This man has more experience and knowledge in his little figure then Obama has in his entire head...

Flag Reply +93 rate up
34 replies
decorsbie July 02 2014 at 6:51 PM

Mr. Romney, its too bad you were not elected President. I'd vote for you again!

Flag Reply +77 rate up
16 replies
rickydh1956 July 02 2014 at 6:37 PM

Still waiting to see those income tax records Mitt, what are you hiding?

Flag +74 rate up
50 replies
bdot157 July 02 2014 at 6:39 PM

What Romney really meant was punish yourself and all Americans and vote for a Repugnant ...........I mean Republican't senate

Flag Reply +52 rate up
19 replies
let.freedom.ring July 03 2014 at 8:33 AM

Compare Mitt Romney's
long list of great success stories against Obama's list of success (none - zero)
America made the biggest mistake
in history when tricked into electing Barack Hussein Obama.

Flag Reply +50 rate up
5 replies
wcraig609 July 02 2014 at 6:51 PM

What a shame....Mitt would makle a great President.....and it's going to take a Great President to clean up the mess made by the jackarse presently in the White House.

Flag Reply +38 rate up
5 replies
palmspringslife July 02 2014 at 6:46 PM

Spend your life making your family happy and not inflicting your GOP mentality on the U.S. where that "47%" have a long memory.

Flag Reply +27 rate up
13 replies
Michael July 02 2014 at 8:57 PM

The Tea Party people are extremists. "Negotiation" and "compromise" are not in their lexicon. They will kill the Republican Party.

Flag Reply +22 rate up
16 replies
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