Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is regularly asked if he’ll run again. (He says he won’t.)
But his answer doesn’t stop people from speculating that he was trying to replace President Donald Trump on the ballot this year (Romney isn’t.)
Or wild conspiracy theories seeking to explain Romney’s ongoing criticism of the president. (Stop. He isn’t running for president.)
The latest proof that Romney’s presidential aspirations have come to an end?
On Tuesday, Romney’s presidential campaign committee filed termination papers with the Federal Election Commission, officially dissolving the organization.
Back in 2012, Romney carried 24 states and pulled in 47% of the popular vote. President Barack Obama won a second term that year, tallying 305 electoral votes while carrying 26 states and the District of Columbia.
Romney’s dormant presidential effort has reduced the cash remaining in the account since the beginning of the year. The committee reported $177,924 in incoming cash, with the bulk of that income coming from renting out its valuable mailing and email list to other organizations for fundraising or marketing.
As one of its final acts, the campaign committee transferred $54,000 to Romney’s Senate campaign committee. The remaining cash went to pay taxes and accountants or political consultants.
“This is a several years-long process to shut it down,” said Matt Waldrip, who was an aide on Romney’s 2012 presidential run and his current Senate chief of staff. “It’s not something we decided to do yesterday.”
Romney raised $449 million during the 2012 campaign, a sum that was dwarfed by Obama’s $722 million fundraising haul that year.
Romney has been the center of some conspiratorial speculation on the political right, both online and in social media, that he was part of a convoluted plot to replace Trump on the presidential ballot in November. Most of that speculation sprang from Romney’s vote to convict Trump on obstruction of justice charges during his February impeachment trial. Romney was the first U.S. senator in history to vote to remove a sitting president from his own party. He’s also been one of the few Republicans in Congress to criticize Trump during his presidency.
Romney’s historic impeachment vote drew the ire of many Republicans and earned him a rebuke from the Utah GOP.
Romney didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. Instead, he wrote in his wife’s name on the ballot. He recently said he would not vote for Trump in 2020 but did not say how he’d fill out his ballot.
Romney seemingly quashed any conjecture that he was thinking about mounting a late challenge to Trump this year when he said in June he believed the president would be reelected.
Wednesday’s filing marks the definitive end to Romney’s aspirations of occupying the White House, though it might not stop people from asking him if he’ll run for president again.