Romney's Out ... And In?
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) announced late Wednesday that he would not seek a second term as governor, a move sure to further stoke speculation about his interest in a 2008 presidential candidacy.
"Serving as governor is one of the greatest honors of my life," Romney said at a 6 p.m. ET press conference at the Massachusetts statehouse. "A year from now, it will be time for me to pass that privilege to someone else."
Romney said he would accomplish all he had set out to do by the end of his four year term, rattling off a list of achievements including balancing the state's budget, lowering unemployment and streamlining government. He made no mention of his 2008 aspirations in the speech. Julie Teer, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Romney "is keeping his options open and not closing any doors."
We'll leave it to the state papers to provide the full analysis of what Romney's decision means for the 2006 governor's race (The Fix's quick read: Democrats' prospects just increased markedly). Instead, let's take a look at the impact Romney's decision will have on the Republican presidential field.
The most obvious and important effect is that time Romney would have had to dedicate to a reelection fight can now be devoted to building grassroots networks in Iowa and New Hampshire and raising the millions of dollars he will need to make a serious run at the 2008 Republican nomination.
Like Romney, Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, New York Gov. George Pataki and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are leaving office at the end of 2006, so they are free to concentrate solely on 2008. That may prompt Republicans like Virginia Sen. George Allen, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, and former New York City Rudy Giuliani to speed up their own activities to ensure they stay competitive.
Romney has made no secret of his interest in a national bid, traveling regularly to early primary and caucus states -- a schedule that has drawn criticism from Democrats back home in Massachusetts.
Romney will use his recently-assumed chairmanship as the Republican Governors Association as a national platform in the coming 11 months; after that he can turn into a full-time presidential candidate.
For more on Romney, see this post from The Fix's archives. Go to the next page to read full text of Romney's remarks from today.
Text of Gov. Romney's Dec. 14 remarks:
Fall officially ends in a few days. The snow is piling up. The time has come to speak to you about my plans.
I have a great view of the Boston Common from my office. I can see kids skating on frog pond and commuters going to and from work. In warm months, I see parents and children enjoying a picnic on the lawn. Now, the lights of Christmas and the holidays are spread out before the entire city. In so many ways, this place reminds me of our founding as a "shining city on a hill." It teems with people of all kinds, free to pursue happiness of all kinds. For the past three years, it is service on behalf of these people that has given me purpose. Serving as Governor is one of the greatest honors of my life.
A year from now, it will be time for me to pass that privilege to someone else. I will not be a candidate for re-election.
I have not come to this decision lightly. It comes after many conversations with Ann and with my family and friends. I will miss the enormous satisfaction that comes with making a difference in the lives of our fellow citizens. I will also miss working with my team. They are people of extraordinary talent and ability. They put aside their careers to serve you and our Commonwealth.
My decision comes down to this: In this four year term, we can accomplish what I set out to do. In fact, we've already accomplished a great deal.
When I ran for Governor, the state was in tough shape. Our finances were a mess, unemployment was high and we were losing jobs every month. In some ways, government was hobbled with politics and patronage. I said I'd do my best to clean up the mess.
Today the budget is balanced. Unemployment is down. Employers have added 35,000 jobs since the bottom of the recession. The legislature and my administration have cooperated to reform government and solve major issues. We've streamlined and consolidated government. We've rescued our school building program so that we can construct hundreds of new schools. We've instituted smart growth policies and environmental programs that will preserve what we love about living in New England. Tuition-free Adams scholarships are now granted to thousands of our kids, every year. Taxes have been lowered, most recently for our seniors, and benefits for veterans and National Guardsmen have been improved. Congratulations are due to our legislature and its leaders.
There is more to be done in the coming year. In healthcare, we are on the verge of something truly historic: insuring all our citizens. This is something Republicans and Democrats can agree on. Senate President Travaglini and Speaker DiMasi are good and decent men who are willing to put aside politics to fulfill the promise of a just and compassionate society. After more than two years of diligent work, we are close to getting the job done. I am confident we will.
There is other work also before the legislature that will be resolved, one way or the other, this coming year. I have proposed powerful incentives to add new jobs to our economy. I am fighting for fundamental reform for auto insurance. I want our welfare program to require work. And, like you, I want your income tax rate to decline to 5 percent.
And then, there's education. We've made big strides, defending MCAS and adding science as a graduation requirement, standing up for charter schools, implementing English immersion and adding merit scholarships.
Have you heard about our kids' results? Every year, 4th and 8th graders across America are tested in math and English. Our 4th graders scored 1st among all 50 states in English. They also scored 1st in math. And our 8th graders scored 1st in English. And they scored 1st in math. In all four categories, Massachusetts kids are the top in the nation.
But our nation is falling behind. Our children face global competition unlike anything we ever faced. They will need the best education we can give them. I will continue to fight for education reform, giving better teachers better pay, empowering principals, hiring more math and science teachers, and giving our kids laptop computers.
Let me conclude by saying this to the people of Massachusetts -- I want to thank you for giving me this job. I love it. In January of 2007, when I walk out my office for the last time, I am surely going to miss it. I have loved the whirlwind of accomplishment of the last three years and I will give my all to keep up the pace in my final year.
Posted by: Phil | February 19, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mass Conservative | December 22, 2005 11:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DownWithPC | December 15, 2005 7:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kim | December 15, 2005 6:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MassDem | December 14, 2005 11:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chad R. | December 14, 2005 10:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SorryMitt | December 14, 2005 10:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bp | December 14, 2005 6:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MassDem | December 14, 2005 6:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: J. Crozier | December 14, 2005 6:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PBS | December 14, 2005 6:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MassDem | December 14, 2005 6:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Andy R | December 14, 2005 5:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Ken H. | December 14, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jackson Landers | December 14, 2005 4:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Steve D | December 14, 2005 4:11 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.