So remember that conference call Mitt Romney was having today to update his followers on this current thinking about 2016? You know, the one that Mark Halperin indicated would show steady if not definitive progress towards a candidacy, along with considerable disrespect for rivals?

Well, conservative radio talk host and opinion-leader Hugh Hewitt has put out what he says is the prepared text of Romney’s statement for the conference call. And it says he’s decided against running.

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….

After some throat-clearing about how he was currently the best-equipped candidate to win the nomination and the White House, here’s the pivot:

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.

Nobody on Twitter seems to be doubting the authenticity of Hewitt’s info. So it’s done, I guess, and for good:

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.

It’s not quite a Sherman Statement, but since it’s not exactly as though the whole world was begging Mitt to run, it’s close enough to unleash the donors and other Mitt loyalists to sign up with others. I don’t know whether to read anything into the business about favoring someone from the “next generation of Republican leaders” and “one who is just getting started;” maybe it’s a veiled shot at Jebbie or his 2008 tormenter Huck or his 2012 rivals Santo and Perry. But for now Romney will probably be quickly and thoroughly forgotten–again. I’d say the reaction of HuffPost’s Sam Stein reflected what a lot of us in the commentariat are thinking right now:

wow. we wasted so much f***ing time writing about and discussing Romney running. i won’t ever get that back

UPDATE: It’s official, per the New York Times‘ Martin and Barbaro. Mitt dropped the bomb on a conference call, and even that did not go well:

Friday’s conference call seemed bittersweet for the Romney family. At one point, Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, came on the line and thanked the former aides for their steadfast support.

But luck was clearly not with Mr. Romney this time, even as he shared the news with his former staff members on his morning call. Mr. Romney’s voice fell off the line as the connection was suddenly dropped.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.