Retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis won't be on the presidential ballot this fall is definitely not running for president, again.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that the retired former Marine Corps four-star sent an email to associates ruling out any chance of a third-party presidential run.
The paper reported that Mattis the 65-year-old met with political strategists to listen to pitches during a Washington, D.C. visit earlier this month, but dismissed taking further steps. Shortly before the meeting, during a think tank speech on April 22, Mattis said he hadn’t given the idea of a presidential bid any thought.
Joel Searby, who had helped lay the groundwork for a potential Mattis campaign, told the Times that the 65-year-old former head of U.S. Central Command made clear in his email to supporters that he "decided definitively not to pursue a run for president."
Mattis said the same last summer, when Republican Party operatives pressured him to enter the then-growing field of presidential candidates for the November 2016 election. At the time, he told Marine Corps Times that "[it's] time for younger people, especially veterans, to run for office."
Individuals involved in the latest bid told Military Times that Mattis' decision is "final."
But the latest denial is unlikely to completely stamp down the speculation of Mattis as commander in chief.
The premise behind his long-shot candidacy was built upon an assumption that Mattis would be completely resistant to the idea, but would eventually change his mind if support for him became too much loud to ignore.
And officials behind the Mattis-for-president campaign said that possibility would only occur after Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton locked down their respective party nominations. A Mattis run could giveing voters relief from that disappointing slate of choices, as characterized by his supporters.
Even then, the path for Mattis to win the White House would be overly complex. He'd likely have to siphon off enough votes from the two major-party nominees to win a few states, preventing any one candidate from declaring victory, and hope that Congress would step in and appoint him president (under a procedure laid out in the 12th Amendment).
Mattis developed a cult-like following among service members during his 34-year military career, in large part due to his blunt talk and impressive military resume.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.