“I’m not going to say we haven’t talked about it, of course, you look and you say what are you going to do in the future … a lot of people said ‘prepare for 2016,’ ” Gidley said.

Some political observers have hypothesized that Santorum chose to exit the race before the Pennsylvania primary to preserve his standing in the party — and avoid an embarrassing home-state loss. …

Matthews also noted that implicit in preparing for a 2016 run was the assumption Romney would lose his November battle with President Obama. Gidley downplayed that idea, but without much enthusiasm.