Following the recent revelation that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) would not seek another term in the U.S. Senate, there were rumors that he could instead be preparing to launch another presidential bid, this time as an independent or third-party candidate.
Those rumors were just shut down by the outgoing Republican senator's chief of staff, however, who told a local reporter that Romney was "not considering running for President on any ticket," according to Breitbart.
The top aide further noted that his boss had been "unaware" of an ongoing effort by a purportedly centrist organization to "draft" Romney into a bipartisan ticket with fellow outgoing Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who also just announced that he won't be seeking re-election to another Senate term in 2024.
Last week, as part of the Associated Press' reporting on Sen. Manchin's retirement announcement, it was revealed that the No Labels group had filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to form an exploratory draft committee with an eye toward mounting a third-party presidential bid in 2024.
The group hoped to create an ostensible bipartisan centrist ticket comprised of Manchin and Sen. Romney as a moderate alternative voters could choose instead of voting for either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump, the clear frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican nominations, respectively.
That effort to draft Manchin and Romney into a presidential ticket supposedly had at least $1 million in initial funding backing it, but it was acknowledged at that time that neither of the two senators had formally signed on to the plan.
The No Labels presidential effort, at least in so far as it pertains to Sen. Romney, has now been denied and disassociated with by the Utah senator, according to local NBC affiliate KSL-TV reporter Lindsay Aerts.
The reporter shared on social media a message she had received from Romney's Chief of Staff Liz Johnson, who said, "Senator Romney was not aware of this effort and he is not considering running for president on any ticket."
An FEC filing was opened called the "Draft Romney Manchin Committee."
— Lindsay Aerts (@LindsayOnAir) November 10, 2023
Breitbart noted that Sen. Romney, who voted to impeach former President Trump, often found himself at odds with the voter base of his own Republican Party due to his incessant criticisms against Trump and those who support him, which likely was a factor in his decision to no longer run for office.
Sen. Manchin, meanwhile, was facing a particularly tough re-election battle as a Democrat, even a relatively moderate one, in the deep red state of West Virginia, but unlike his colleague from Utah, Manchin has not attempted to correct or shut down the persistent rumors that he may launch an independent presidential run to challenge both Presidents Biden and Trump.
As for the No Labels group, it issued a statement praising Manchin as a "great leader" following that senator's retirement announcement and also vaguely addressed its efforts to form a bipartisan presidential ticket.
"Regarding our No Labels Unity presidential ticket, we are gathering input from our members across the country to understand the kind of leaders they would like to see in the White House," the group stated. "As we have said from the beginning, we will make a decision by early 2024 about whether we will nominate a Unity presidential ticket and who will be on it."
One thing now seems clear -- Sen. Romney, unless he changes his mind between now and then, won't be included on that prospective third-party ticket, if one is even formed in the first place.