(WASHINGTON) — “Draft Mitt” — a group hoping to coax former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney into making another run in 2016 — received a major setback from former Romney campaign insider Spencer Zwick.
Zwick, a close confidante of Romney who was the finance chairman for the 2012 Republican presidential nominee’s campaign, told the Deseret News that Romney will not be running for president.
“This organization has absolutely no bearing on Mitt Romney running for president,” Zwick told the Utah newspaper. “He says he’s not running for president and nothing this organization can do will change that.”
“Mitt is not supporting this,” Zwick told the paper. “None of us are asking people to do this.”
DraftMitt.org was created by Utah Republican State Chairman James Evans. The website invites individuals to sign a petition encouraging Romney to run for president for a third time in 2016.
In an interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto earlier this year, Evans acknowledged that his site didn’t have “the governor’s blessings.”
“We don’t need the permission of the draftee,” Evans said. “We will put together enough momentum where the draftee then feels compelled to then step forward, so that’s our motivation.”
Since launching in May, the site has received nearly 116,000 signatures and Evans had promised that “all petition signatures will be hand delivered to Mitt Romney.”
The group was planning a “national launch” in South Carolina for late August, but Evans told the Deseret News that the event has since been canceled.
Romney has ruled out the possibility of another White House bid.
Speaking to the New York Times in January, Romney did not mince words: “No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no. People are always gracious and say, ‘Oh, you should run again.’ I’m not running again.”
“I want to make sure that we take the country in a different direction,” Romney added. “I think that Chris Christie and Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, and the list goes on, have a much better chance of doing that, and so I will support one of them as they become the nominee.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com
Eli Watkins, CNN
Miranda Green, CNN