I feel like a football blogger covering an announcement that the NFL will disband effective immediately. What do I do now?

Ben K, one of Ace’s co-bloggers, tweets, “So it looks like you’re going to have to actually start writing content filled piece again?” No way. I need to stay true to who I am.

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…

I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.

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 president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president. You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country.   But we believe it is for the best of the Party and the nation.

I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind. That seems unlikely. Accordingly, I’m not organizing a PAC or taking donations; I’m not hiring a campaign team.

My guess this morning was that he would decide against running, even after the Daily Beast farted out its now infamous “Sources: Romney’s running!” scoop. The odds of winning were too long and the risk of humiliation too great for him to take the plunge again. Only an egomaniac would think he was the guy for 2016 after losing badly twice before against fields much weaker than this, and Romney’s never struck me as an egomaniac. Frankly, I’m surprised he got as far as he did in thinking seriously about it again. The last month has been an odd show of impetuousness from a guy who’s supposed to be coolly, unflappably analytical in his assessment of risk. He seems to have taken Jeb Bush’s aggressive recruiting and fundraising as some sort of personal affront, worthy of tossing out the window his alleged plan to hold back and possibly enter the race late as establishment savior if Bush struggled. Remember, for months the only route to running again touted by Romney insiders was with Mitt as the reluctant warrior, drafted back into the race next spring to unite a fractured party that couldn’t agree on a nominee. Then Jeb got in and suddenly we arrived at a place where Romney was prepared to announce before nearly anyone else. Bizarre. But I’m glad he got his bearings before making a mistake. It would have been painful to watch him struggle and eventually quit against a more talented field. He’s a nice man. He’ll do well, and already has done well, as an elder statesman.

There are updates coming but let’s get this up now so that people can comment.

Update: Romney led in nearly every early poll. Just yesterday, Fox News had him atop the field at 21 percent with Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee tied for second at just 11 percent. But … so what? If anything, as the reigning nominee and a man with a high favorable rating, Romney should probably be crushing the competition at this point. Even his favorables aren’t off-the-charts amazing: Public Policy Polling found that Ben Carson matches Romney’s net rating at +38. And remember, favorables are mostly (but not entirely, per Carson) a function of how well known a candidate is. As, say, Scott Walker becomes more familiar to Republican voters, his favorables will approach Romney’s.

Update: In a nutshell:

The good news? If we end up with a fractured primary and brokered convention, as Sean Trende predicts, Romney’s still available to play that “reluctant warrior drafted as nominee” he was eyeing in the first place. Which means another round of “Romney 2016?” trollblogging for yours truly next summer. Whew.

Update: Gonna guess that this news yesterday nudged Romney to make his announcement today. Romney’s donors were watching staffers (and other donors) jump ship; in fact, per NBC, “We can tell you that folks whom Romney has INVITED on [today’s conference] call are already planning to work for Bush.” With Jeb recruiting people and Christie, Walker, and Paul all getting ready to jump in, Mitt’s supporters needed an answer from him ASAP on whether he was running. Now they have it.

Update: Well now. Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Times.

Mr. Romney’s announcement started a day of reckoning with his would-be rivals. He is scheduled to have dinner with Mr. Christie on Friday evening, according to two people with knowledge of his schedule, suggesting that Mr. Romney may be considering throwing his support, and that of his own political operation, to Mr. Christie. The two men are friendly, and Mr. Christie, along with Mr. Bush, was a main rival of Mr. Romney for the favor of the Republican establishment.

I won’t say more about that since Noah’s planning a post on it, but it’s fascinating to watch the CW shift from “Romney won’t run and he’ll endorse Jeb” six months ago to “Romney won’t run and he’ll endorse anyone but Jeb” today. He could be a gamechanger for Christie in terms of delivering the donors Christie needs to compete with Bush. Frankly, if he really wanted to screw Bush, he should have taken the opportunity on the conference call this morning to endorse someone — Christie, Walker, Rubio, whoever.

Update: Jeb Bush has issued a statement.

Mitt Romney has been a leader in our party for many years. There are few people who have worked harder to elect Republicans across the country than he has. Though I’m sure today’s decision was not easy, I know that Mitt Romney will never stop advocating for renewing America’s promise through upward mobility, encouraging free enterprise and strengthening our national defense. Mitt is a patriot and I join many in hoping his days of serving our nation and our party are not over. I look forward to working with him to ensure all Americans have a chance to rise up.

Columba and I wish Mitt, Ann and their entire family the very best.

Update: Oof.

Update: I’m curious how the Daily Beast, which says they had “multiple sources close to Romney,” got it so wrong. They weren’t the only ones either: Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics also thought everything pointed towards Romney running. Why was even Mitt’s inner circle confused about this? Did he change his mind on what he would do at the last second, i.e. literally within the last few hours? There’s impetuousness and there’s … whatever that is.

Update: Via the Blaze, keep hope alive.