As Politico reports:
In interviews this week with nearly a dozen committee members — the people who compose the most active and powerful core of the party apparatus — nearly all expressed deep skepticism about a third Romney White House bid. The sentiment was unambigious: The GOP needs to find a new candidate to carry the party past its painful 2012 loss and back to the White House.
“He had a great opportunity last time and I personally want a fresh face,” said Roger Villere, the Louisiana Republican Party chairman. “What’s going to be different this time?”
If he does run, party officials said, Romney would face a crowded field that is bound to be much stronger than the one he prevailed over in 2012. The new pack includes a range of well-positioned candidates, from establishment mainstays like former Florida Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to tea party favorites like Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.
With the GOP debate schedule already being set, it's about time that real contenders start throwing their hats in the ring. A few "establishment" candidates are already running, including Jeb Bush, so if Romney is going to make major inroads he needs to do it early, before supporters start coalescing.
Politico also reported that "there was also enthusiasm for Ben Carson" at the meeting, meaning the field is getting crowded already. Romney is going to face an uphill battle, and he's already a no-go with a lot of current GOP voters and kingmakers.