Mitt Romney told a gathering of the Republican National Committee on Friday that he is “giving some serious consideration” to a presidential run in 2016. It was the first public acknowledgement by the former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate that he might again throw his hat into the Republican nominating ring.

“I’m giving some serious consideration to the future,” he said at the RNC’s winter meeting in San Diego. “But this I know, we can win in 2016 as a party in the House, in the Senate, and in the White House if we communicate a clear vision of where we are taking this country.”

Despite some strong denials since he failed to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012, Romney has been the subject of much discussion. At first, that discussion revolved around a still-sputtering economy and the threat posed by a newly aggressive Russia. But with the national unemployment rate now dipping below the Romney campaign’s first-term target (6% was the promise, 5.6% is the most recently announced reality) and Moscow feeling the strain of sanctions and crashing oil prices, the rationale for an “I was right” campaign seems less clear.

That did not stop him from committing to that argument on Friday.

“The results of the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama foreign policy have been devastating,” Romney said in San Diego Friday. “The world is not safer.”

But rather than focus on what he considers a failed Obama presidency, his new target appears to be Clinton, the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination. A 2016 presidential campaign will “be about the post-Obama era” Romney said.

Along with foreign policy, he also plans to make economics a key part of a 2016 platform.

“Under President Obama, the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty in America than ever before,” Romney said. “Under this president, his policies have not worked. Their liberal policies are good every four years for a campaign, but they don’t get the job done.”

But according to the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, Romney could have a hard time convincing people to trust him on poverty and income inequality. Exit polls in 2012 showed that 53% of voters thought Romney’s policies would most benefit the wealthy. During the 2012 primaries, Romney also said he was “not concerned about the very poor” because of safety net programs. While that line drew much criticism, he added in the same breath that “if it needs repair, I’ll fix it,” and pointed out that the “very rich” are “doing just fine.”

A CNN/ORC Internation poll conducted last summer found that while Romney would have beaten Obama in a hypothetical 2014 rematch, he would have lost to Clinton by a double-digit margin: 55%-42%.

Asked Friday during a press conference what he thought of the possibility of a 2016 run for Romney, Obama just smiled and said, “I have no comment.”

But whether his justification for a third presidential campaign is accepted by a large enough swath of the Republican primary voting population will probably depend largely on the quality of his competition. And in a field that will likely include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the path to a Romney nomination seems far less obvious than it was in 2012.

“Most people were suprised” by the possibility of a Mitt Romney campaign for president in 2016, former Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis told CNN. “He is very well respected and liked here, but he has got to make a case for running a third time. And especially when we have such a strong field.”

[photo credit: marcn]