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Read Mitt Romney's announcement that he won't run for president in 2016

Mitt Romney's full remarks on a conference call Friday morning to announce he is not running for president in 2016:

Good morning, everybody. This is Mitt. Let me begin by letting you know who else is on this call, besides Ann and me. There are a large number of people who signed on to be leaders of our 2016 finance effort. In addition, state political leadership from several of the early primary states are on the line. And here in New York City, and on the phone, are people who have been helping me think through how to build a new team, as well as supporters from the past who have all been kind enough to volunteer their time during this deliberation stage. Welcome, and thank you. Your loyalty and friendship, and your desire to see the country with new, competent and conservative leadership does in fact warm the heart.

After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next...

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Romney a no-go in 2016; GOP newcomer 'may have a better chance'

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced Friday that he will not run for president in 2016, catching even some of his closest supporters by surprise and scrambling the race for the Republican Party nomination.

Two weeks after he publicly announced his interest in a third run at the White House, Romney told donors, former staffers and other supporters in a conference call that he believed he had the fundraising and political base to win the nomination, and cited positive recent polls. But he conceded that it would be a tough fight, and said that one of the next generation of GOP leaders could be more capable of defeating the Democratic nominee in 2016.

“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” said Romney.

“I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that...

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Mitt Romney to update allies Friday about 2016 presidential bid

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has scheduled a call with staff members and supporters Friday morning, two weeks after he publicly announced his interest in launching a third presidential campaign.

The topic of the call was not specified in an email to his allies — other than its description as an "update call" — but it will occur within the window that Romney had set for deciding whether to run.

Romney’s interest in the race was disclosed at a private gathering of former donors. His first public comments came Jan. 16, during a gathering of Republican National Committee members on the aircraft carrier Midway in San Diego.

He said then that if he ran again, after an unsuccessful bid in 2008 and winning the nomination but losing the general election in 2012, he would change his focus to poverty, income inequality and foreign policy.

“I believe in the post-Obama era we need to stand for safety, and for opportunity for all people, and we have to stand for helping lift people out of...

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Obama urges Democrats not to be defensive

President Obama sought to transfer some swagger to a deflated group of Democrats on Thursday, saying the American people would respond if the party made a forceful case for what it stands for.

Addressing the thinned-out ranks of House Democrats after an election that reduced their numbers to a nearly 70-year low, Obama said he accepted some of the blame for November losses. But he also suggested that some candidates' efforts to distance themselves from their, and his, record played a role.

"We need to stand up and not be defensive about what we believe in!" Obama said.

The upcoming budget fight in Congress could be an opportunity to do that. He argued that after years of the GOP blocking some of his plans and warning that others would result in economic collapse, the results tell another story. But despite positive economic trends, he said, "we've got some more work to do."

"The economy's gotten better, wages are starting to tick up, people are starting to feel better about the economy...

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Homeland Security chief: Funding should not be 'political football'

The nation's Homeland Security chief pushed back Thursday against Republican threats to cut off funding for the department to protest President Obama’s immigration policies.

The department's budget runs out at the end of February, and Republicans have threatened to hold up additional appropriations unless the Obama administration pulls back plans to stop the deportation of up to 4 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.

“In these times, the Homeland Security budget of this country should not be a political football,” Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, said at the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington.

The United States faces increased threats from terrorist groups, Johnson said, particularly in the wake of the three-day killing spree that left 17 people dead in Paris this month. An Al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen claimed responsibility.

To press his point, Johnson showed the audience a photo of himself as an 8-year-old boy with his family next to their Buick...

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Obama bid to end 'sequestration' spending limits divides Republicans

President Obama revived his call Thursday to end federal spending limits linked to a last-resort deficit deal reached nearly four years ago, an appeal that fell squarely in the divide between Republicans in Congress who want to rein in costs and those who want to boost the Pentagon’s budget.

Obama has repeatedly asked Congress to “fully reverse” the so-called sequestration cuts that were part of a 2011 deal and intended to be so unpalatable they would never be enacted. But they took effect in 2013 after lawmakers failed to reach a compromise to avert them. The president’s pleas to lift the restraints have produced only temporary, and partial, changes.

But changing circumstances could give new life to Obama’s requests, at least on defense spending. A shrinking deficit, a new Republican-led Congress and the Pentagon’s need to fund the 6-month-old fight against Islamic State militants who continue to seize land and terrorize cities across Iraq and Syria could work in the president’s favor...

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