Romney reflects on 2016: Why didn't I run — 'I ask myself that a lot'

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Mitt Romney says he often wonders why he's not running in the 2016 election.

"I get asked on a regular basis, 'Boy, why aren't you running this year?' I ask myself that a lot too," Romney said Wednesday at a summit hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, ABC News reported.

The 2012 Republican nominee was welcomed by a zealous audience who greeted him with a standing ovation, according to Politico. He joked about his loss to President Barack Obama four years ago and encouraged the audience to run for president if they have the chance.

Romney expressed disappointment that debates in this election cycle haven't address key issues and rebuked both presidential candidates — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — without naming them, for not discussing some real challenges facing the country such as national debt and poverty.

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Mitt Romney's campaigns for president
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Mitt Romney's campaigns for president
**FILE** Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a rally on the steps of the Statehouse in Boston, in this Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006 file photo, Romney's political record is relatively brief - four years as Massachusetts governor and two statewide campaigns - but that's enough for Brian Camenker to write a 28-page report that portrays Romney as sympathetic to gay rights and sexual behavior that clashes with his burnished image as a defender of traditional values. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki, File)
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with first graders from Mead Hall Episcopal School during a campaign swing through South Carolina as he stops to be the Keynote speaker at a Rotary club meeting Monday, Jan. 29, 2007, in Aiken, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
Republican Mitt Romney meets with the media after addressing the Detroit Economic Club in Detroit, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007. Romney used the first major policy speech of his fledgling presidential campaign to promote permanent tax cuts, portable health insurance and free and open markets. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney signs a poster for Alex Stroman, of Chester, S.C. Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007, at Seawell's in Columbia, S.C. Romney visited South Carolina as part of his official campaign kickoff tour following his announcement Tuesday that he's seeking the Republican presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Perry Baker)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney holds one his granddaughter, Mia, 2, after speaking in Columbia, S.C. Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007, as part of his official campaign kickoff tour. Romney visited South Carolina following his announcement Tuesday that he's seeking the Republican presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Perry Baker)
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney talks to the nation's first presidential primary voters during a campaign stop at the Opera House in Derry, N.H., Tuesday, April 3, 2007.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to a potential voter on a cellphone at his campaign headquarters in Boston Wednesday, May 16, 2007, one day after the latest GOP presidential debate, and amid a daylong effort by his campaign to enlist 24,000 new supporters. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney shakes hands during a campaign stop at Moulton's Market in Amherst, N.H., Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, kisses 6-month-old Bennett Covington as he poses for a picture with the baby and his mother, Liz Covington, Thursday, September 27, 2007 , during a campaign stop at an IHOP in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Rich Pedroncelli)
Republican presidential hopeful former Massachussets Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to local residents during a campaign stop Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, in Humboldt, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, shakes hands with supporters at a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Republican presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, waves to supports during a primary day campaign rally in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands during a campaign rally, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, in Orange City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
A woman working in the room where Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will speak election night is silhouetted against a lighted campaign sign near the stage at the Boston Convention Center in Boston, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a Florida campaign rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport, in Sanford, Fla., Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with his wife Ann greet supporters during a campaign rally at the International Exhibition Center in Cleveland, Sunday Nov. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at the Newport News International Airport, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, in Newport News, Va. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reaches out to shake hands with supporters as he campaigns at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport in Colorado Springs, Col., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney carries Levi Vandenberg, five months, of Dover, N.H., after he picked him up from his mother and continued to walk down a ropeline of supporterrs as he campaigns at Portsmouth International Airport, in Newington, N.H., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. He later returned the baby to his mother. Ann Romney is seen at left. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as they fly on his campaign plane to Miami Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters as he campaigns at the Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and vice presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wave to the crowd as fireworks go off during a campaign rally on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, right, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shake hands following their third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands during a campaign event at Watson Truck and Supply, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in Hobbs, N.M. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pauses during a campaign event at Horizontal Wireline Services on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in Irwin, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney smiles as he addresses supporters at his Super Tuesday campaign rally in Boston, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds One-year-old Madison Busch during a campaign rally in Loveland, Colo., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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"I've watched the presidential debates, I've looked at the give-and-take, there's been almost no discussion of those things I've described," Romney said. "I don't think either candidate for president has said they're going to reform entitlements one way or another."

Romney declined to comment on the state of the presidential race in Utah, where he got a landslide victory in 2012 and now independent candidate Evan McMullin is leading, and declined to say which candidate he is going to vote for — he said earlier this year that he refused to vote for either Clinton or Trump and may vote for a third party candidate.

Romney announced in early 2015 that he will stay out of the 2016 presidential race, saying in a statement that he didn't want to "make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president". Early this year, his son was still urging him to run for president.

Speculations about a possible 2016 Romney White House bid had been going on for a while. The former Massachusetts governor made it abundantly clear on the "Today" show in November last year: "I've said it. I'll say it again today, which is: I'm not running. I'm not planning on running."

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