He's running! He's not. He could be running! He's not. The endless loop of 2016 Romneymania continues to spin and it's giving me a headache.

And now the other most popular candidate who is not running is piling on. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Groups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's MORE took a veiled shot Thursday at the former Massachusetts governor for his 2009 "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" op-ed. The jab comes as Romney leads the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But he's not running, right? Right.

On Monday, Ann Romney told the Los Angeles Times that her family was "Done. Done. Done" with her husband running for a third time. On Tuesday, Ann told The Washington Post that "we'll have to see what happens." On Thursday, on CNN, she said she is still "done" with the idea of another presidential bid, but added "you know, you never do say never."


Calgon, take me away. (If you have to ask, you are not a child of the 80s.)

So which is it? Yes, or no? Until last month, it was a definitive quadruple "no."

The New York Times asked Romney in January if he would consider a third presidential run. "Oh, no, no, no, no. I can't count all the nos."

In February, David Gregory, then host of "Meet the Press," asked again. "Maybe you should be more definitive. Is there something, governor, that might make you change your mind?"

Romney replied: "And I'm not running for president. We've got some very good people who are considering the race. And I'm looking forward to supporting someone who I think will have the best shot of defeating whoever it is the Democrats put up."

In June, Gregory took another crack at it: "Will you be a candidate in 2016? If you were drafted, if the conditions were right, would you consider another run?"

Again, Romney shot it down. "David, I'm not running for president. I said that so many times. As you know, we just had this conference here in Park City, Utah. I brought a number of the 2016 contenders here to meet with my fundraisers. Had I been running, I wouldn't be doing. Look, I want to find the best candidate for us to take our message to the American people."

But wait! Gregory wouldn’t let the umpteenth "no" be a no. Immediately, he asked a follow-up question: "Well, 100 [percent] Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE will not, even if drafted, will not be a candidate in 2016?"

Romney: "I'm not running and talk of the draft is kind of silly."

Silly? Sure doesn’t sound like it. Last month that the Romneys started vacillating. In a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, he said, "Circumstances can change, but I'm just not going to let my head go there." He told The New York Times Magazine, "We'll see what happens." And now it’s October and we're never saying never.

Will the Romneys take the plunge? Will the GOP take "no" for an answer? Will the media ever stop asking if he's running? If I were a betting woman, I'd say no.


Ashburn is a veteran Washington-based reporter and analyst covering media and politics.