Which wants the White House more?

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Romney Told McCain He's 'Seriously Considering' Third Run

Josh Rogin is a former Bloomberg View columnist.
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John McCain, the Republican who lost the 2008 presidential race, said Tuesday that Mitt Romney, the Republican who lost the 2012 presidential race, will be competitive if and when he runs again for the presidency in 2016.

“He’s got a good donor base, he’s got a reservoir of good will,” McCain told me on Tuesday. “He’s very viable.”

Romney called McCain on Tuesday to tell the Arizona senator that he is “seriously considering” a third run at the presidency in 2016, McCain said. Romney has been speaking about his intention to run in recent days with donors and former staffers, promising a “different” style of campaigning this time around but without many specifics about what his new strategy will entail.

“He told me he is seriously considering it, and we discussed issues and friendships and things like that. We are very good friends,” McCain said. “I said, ‘Mitt, I will respect your decision as to what you decide and I can understand some of the reasons why you are interested in running again.’”

President Barack Obama ridiculed Romney on foreign policy and national security during the 2012 campaign, for example by saying in one debate: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” a reference to Romney naming Russia as America’s top geopolitical foe. 

McCain said that over the last four years, Obama’s foreign policy judgment has been called into question and Romney’s predictions have to some extent borne out on issues including Russian expansionism, whether pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq was a great success, and Obama’s contention that al-Qaeda was on the run.

“Obviously on the things that were debated on national security, the president was completely wrong," McCain said. “Mitt has a point there. Mitt has a legitimate reason for a re-run.”

McCain said he is open to supporting Romney in 2016 but won’t make any endorsements just yet. McCain likes to joke that he is supporting his friend Lindsey Graham for the presidency in 2016. “I think Lindsey will be in it until the final primary,” he joked. There is no indication Graham has any intention of running.

There will not be another McCain presidential run, the 78-year-old senator said. “Of course I think about it. I dream about it,” McCain said sarcastically. “No, I’ve learned my lesson.”

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To contact the author on this story:
Josh Rogin at joshrogin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net