The move will throw the GOP’s fast-coalescing race into chaos as it now must make room for both Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, two moderates seen as competing for the same heavyweight donors.
‘Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run,’ Romney told donors during the get-together in New York City, according to a source who spoke to Politico.
A longtime Romney camp insider contacted by DailyMail.com expressed surprise at the news and had no knowledge of the event.
The inside-the-beltway newspaper learned that financier Alex Nabab, who participated in a fundraising event for Bush, attended the Romney gathering of about 30 influential money-men and women.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Romney met Wednesday in California with a select group of aides from his 2012 campaign, including counselors Ben Ginsberg and Katie Biber Chen, press secretary Andrea Saul and policy director Lanhee Chen.
The Post interviewed Spencer Zwick, Romney’s former national finance co-chairman, who attended the New York meeting on Friday.
‘I believe Mitt Romney is too much of a patriot to sit on the sidelines and concede the presidency to Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren when he knows that he can fix the country,’ Zwick told the newspaper.
‘He traveled the country in 2014, met with voters, met with citizens, and I think at the end of the day he believes he could actually make a difference.’
Another person in attendance said that Romney answered a question about his intentions by saying, ‘People ask if I really want to be president. … I’ve run twice. Yeah, I want to be president.’
Romney ran in 2008, losing the GOP nomination to Arizona Sen. John McCain, and in 2012, becoming the Republican nominee but failing to beat President Barack Obama.
The Mormon politician’s ties to big business caused him trouble three years ago in the harsh spotlight of an unsympathetic mass-media.
Another Romney run has long been rumored but never substantiated, and he has outpaced the field in polls where his name is included among GOP hopefuls.
‘At one point during the meeting,’ The Wall Street Journal reported, ‘one of the attendees asked Mr. Romney if he wanted to be president, a person present said. The 2012 nominee said, yes, of course.’
The meeting was reportedly scheduled weeks ago in December, long before Bush announced the formation of a leadership PAC – the first step toward a likely candidacy.
Romney has no timetable for a decision, according to the Journal, but said the domestic U.S. economy and the tumultuous foreign affairs environment in which the Obama White House has made some stumbles, are on his mind as he mulls his future.
His first hurdle, however, may be persuading his wife Ann to withstand another bruising campaign cycle.
She seemed to slam the door on the idea in October, telling the Los Angeles Times that she and Mitt were ‘done’ running for president ‘completely.’
‘Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done,’ she said, referring to the couple’s five sons.
‘Done. Done. Done,’ Mrs. Romney added.
But other statements from the politician himself have left prognosticators scratching their heads.
He said in August that while he had no plans to run again, ‘circumstances can change.’
Then his wife suggested he could make a political comeback – but only if Bush stayed out of the race.
In October he swatted away a scrum of reporters in Kentucky, where he was campaigning for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election, telling them, ‘I’m not running, I’m not planning on running and I expect to be supporting one of the many people who I think are looking at this race.’
He repeated the refrain days later in an interview with Bloomberg News.
‘I’m not letting my head go there,’ Romney said with cameras rolling. ‘Where I’m focused on making sure we nominate the right person, who cares about the kinds of issues I care about.’
By November he was re-engaged in policy issues, taking a direct swipe at President Obama for what he called an ‘extra-constitutional’ move to mainstream millions of illegal immigrants.
Following through, he warned, would be ‘poking an eye of the Republican leaders in Congress.’
‘The president has got to learn that he lost this last election round,’ Romney said on the NBC News program Meet the Press. ‘The American people spoke loud and clear. Let those people who were elected come together with a piece of legislation on this and other topics, and then he has a chance to veto them if he doesn’t like them.’
‘But the idea of violating the principles of our constitution, which is a balance of power, checks and balances, that is something which is wrong.’
In July amid an Obama public-opinion malaise accelerated by the release of five Taliban soldiers in exchange for a captive Army sergeant, a CNN/ORC poll found that Romney would win a do-over election against the president.
Romney would have taken 53 percent of the popular vote to Obama’s 44 percent, in that snapshot in time.
Weeks earlier a WMUR/Granite State Poll found that in the critical early primary state of New Hampshire, Romney crushed his Republican competition when his name was added to the field.
His numbers there emerged nearly as dominant as Hillary Clinton’s on the Democratic side, capturing 39 per cent of the vote.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul were each a distant second with a 7 per cent showing.
A followup poll by the same company in November found the margin had narrowed, with ROmney at 30 per cent and Paul at 11.
Nationally, CNN and ORC found in early December that Romney has a narrower lead among Republicans, winning the support of about 20 per cent.
Bush placed third in that poll at 9 per cent, one point behind former pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.
But that was before Bush publicly expressed an interest in running – and before Carson was embroiled in a plagiarism scandal surrounding his 2012 book ‘America the Beautiful.’
In July, Romney’s fellow Utahan Jason Chaffetz, a hard-charging Republican congressman, declared on MSNBC that Romney is ‘actually going to run, and I think he will be the next president of the United States.’
‘He’s been proven right on a lot of stuff,’ said Chaffetz.