An otherwise slow-news Friday morning quickened moments ago as a statement from Mitt Romney surfaced on his intentions regarding the 2016 presidential race. “After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” said the statement, in part.
As CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out, the rest of the statement sends a strong message of “ambivalence.” “I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind. That seems unlikely. Accordingly, I’m not organizing a PAC or taking donations; I’m not hiring a campaign team,” notes the statement.
Now look at what the Daily Beast reported earlier this morning, in a piece that bears no byline: “Mitt Romney Is Running for President.” Uh-oh.
The interesting part of the Daily Beast’s story is its reliance on what appears to be the same memo that declares Romney’s intent to stay out of the race. Here’s how the publication describes that memo:
Mitt Romney will call senior donors at 11 a.m. ET Friday to give them “an update” on his campaign plans. Sources have told The Daily Beast that the former Massachusetts governor will announce his intention to explore a third run for the White House. Romney and his senior aides believe he is the best placed candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton. In a memo sent by Romney to his inner circle Thursday, he highlighted three reasons he should run: He thinks he’s the only qualified Republican in the field, polling is favorable to a win, and he thinks he can do better as a campaigner in 2016. Romney had originally intended to wait until later in the cycle but the bullish entry of Jeb Bush into the field encouraged him to jump early.
And here is the portion of the memo to which the Daily Beast appears to be referring:
Let me give you some of my thinking. First, I am convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination. Our finance calls made it clear that we would have enough funding to be more than competitive. With few exceptions, our field political leadership is ready and enthusiastic about a new race. And the reaction of Republican voters across the country was both surprising and heartening. I know that early poll numbers move up and down a great deal during a campaign, but we would have no doubt started in a strong position. One poll out just today shows me gaining support and leading the next closest contender by nearly two to one. I also am leading in all of the four early states. So I am convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been difficult test and a hard fight.
The same story now has a headline reading, “Mitt Romney Will Not Run for President.” It reads, “Mitt Romney told donors Friday morning that he will not run for president in 2016, contrary [to] an earlier report published in The Daily Beast.” Internet archaeologists will appreciate the URL, which betrays the site’s original reporting: http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2015/01/30/mitt-romney-is-running-for-president.html
Noah Shachtman, the Daily Beast’s executive editor, tells the Erik Wemple Blog that “multiple sources close to the Romney camp were strongly indicating that he was about to make a run,” he says. “The bottom line was, we made the wrong call.” As to why the item bore no byline, Shachtman says it’s part of the site’s so-called “Cheat Sheet,” where there are commonly unsigned squibs.
A tweet from Daily Beast reporter Jackie Kucinich:
Well guys, Romney isn't running. Sometimes the leads aren't the right ones. Good (slightly painful) reminder to slow down and check.— Jackie Kucinich (@JFKucinich) January 30, 2015