Mitt Romney Laughs Off Talk of 2012 Bid in Interview with Jay Leno

Mitt Romney on the "Tonight Show" NBC

In an interview on NBC's "Tonight Show" Wednesday night, Mitt Romney played coy about a prospective presidential bid, declining to say whether or not he planned to enter the race but noting, in a sly dig at Republicans like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee (both of whom are on the payroll at Fox News), "if you ever see me sign up for a gig on Fox News, it'll be a clear indication that I've decided to run for president."

The former Massachusetts governor, who waged an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, kept the conversation playful when questioned about controversial political issues: When asked about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Romney joked, "I have no intention of either asking or telling with regards to my plans for 2012."

Of recent ire-inducing TSA security measures, Romney offered his own alternative. "I have an idea," Romney said. "The TSA and the IRS ought to be merged - because the IRS has had their hands in our pants pockets for years."

The politician spoke more seriously about his term as governor of Massachusetts, however, and indicated that, unlike Sarah Palin, he couldn't imagine having quit the job in the middle of his term.

"It's hard to imagine a circumstance where I'd have quit," Romney told "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. "It's a great job. I loved it. But [Palin] had her reasons."

Romney, however, made it clear that he would not be baited into criticizing the former vice presidential nominee: "If someone's looking for me to say something negative about Sarah Palin, why, that's not gonna come from me," he said. "I mean, did you see what she did to the halibut the other night on her show? I'm not in for that..."

"She's a remarkable, energetic, powerful figure in my party. And attractive, too," Romney said of Palin. "She's a qualified, capable person."

Romney did note that if he were to launch a 2012 presidential bid, he would make sure at least one major change in his tactics: "If I were to do it again, I'd have to make sure that I got more votes than the other guy," he laughed.


Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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