Mitt Romney Exclusive:

Katie Couric is Yahoo’s Global News Anchor

Former GOP presidential candidate talks Clintons and facing off against Evander Holyfield

By Jon Ward

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he decided not to run for president a third time for a simple reason.

“It just didn’t feel right,” Romney said in his first interview since deciding at the end of January not to mount another campaign. “Somehow, it just didn’t feel like this was the right time for us to step forward.”

He said, “I would love to be president. I just concluded I was not the best person to carry forward the Republican torch.”

If he had run, Romney said, he would have spent “a great deal of time taking my message to Hispanic Americans and to other minority groups in this country — African Americans, Asian Americans — and describing why it is that conservative principles are best for them and for their families.

“That’s something I wish I would’ve spent a lot more time doing” in 2012, he said.

The 68-year-old former Massachusetts governor told supporters at the time he announced he would not run again that he thought he could have won the nomination had he fought for it. And he has told advisers that he doubts any of the prospective Republican candidates will have trouble beating the expected Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Romney, speaking with Yahoo News at his son Craig’s home in San Diego, heaped praise Wednesday on several of those Republicans — including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — and he even had kind words for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had been outspoken in saying that Romney should not run.

“A lotta young people are very excited about Rand Paul. And of course, there’s a libertarian strain in my party, and he’s connected with a lotta folks who wanna see us take a different course as a party,” Romney said. “I mean, more power to him as he expresses his views.”

Romney said he does not plan to endorse anyone in the crowded Republican field, but he called Bush “a sound, effective governor” and “a very formidable and capable candidate.”

“And I think he’d be a very good president,” Romney said.

He was effusive in his praise for Walker, calling him “a man of integrity and character.”

“He was one that faced a recall, fought for his agenda; it was supported by the people of Wisconsin. I think a guy like that really has stood the test of a very close inspection,” Romney said. “I think he makes a very compelling case to become a nominee.”

And Romney said that Rubio “has really distinguished himself” on foreign policy, which may be a major issue in the coming 2016 presidential election.
On the Democratic side of the 2016 field, Romney said that the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email address that routed through a server stored in her home was “a mess.”

“I mean, it’s always something with the Clintons,” he said. “They have rules which they describe before they get into something, and then they decide they don’t have to follow their own rules. And that, I think, is gonna be a real problem for her. …

“She didn’t follow the rules and regulations of the federal government,” Romney said.

A bigger challenge for Clinton in 2016, said Romney, would be to explain and defend what he referred to as “the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama foreign policy.” He faulted Clinton’s attempt to “reset” relations with Russia and the Obama administration for not reaching a status of forces agreement with Iraq that would have left a residual force of U.S. troops on the ground there.

“That would’ve helped dissuade the creation of ISIS,” Romney said.

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