Praise for Romney from fellow Republicans, the White House

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans who would have been his potential rivals if he had sought the presidential nomination next year are praising Mitt Romney, after his announcement today that he won't be running.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he respects Romney's decision to "give the next generation a chance to lead." And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush calls Romney a "patriot" -- and says he hopes that Romney's "days of serving our nation and our party are not over."

There's even praise from the White House, where a spokesman cheered Romney's recent comments on policies that could benefit the middle class and reduce poverty. Josh Earnest said, "That is something that is worthy of our respect."

Romney is supposed to have dinner tonight with another of the Republicans he might have had to defeat for the nomination -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. That's according to someone familiar with what's described as a long-planned meeting.

%@AP Links

209-v-31-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent)--The GOP's standard-bearer in 2012 says he won't make another run for the White House. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (30 Jan 2015)

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APPHOTO WX102: FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney says he will not run for president in 2016. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File) (28 Jan 2015)

<<APPHOTO WX102 (01/28/15)££

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