governor Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he's taking the
first step in a 2008 presidential bid, joining an
increasingly crowded field of Republican hopefuls.
''We've filed exploratory papers today, and so the
process is moving forward on that front,'' he told reporters
Wednesday, his final full day in office. He added, ''No
announcement date for you yet,'' but he is planning a
major fund-raiser in Boston on Monday.
A spokesman for
Romney later said the paperwork officially would be filed
late Wednesday afternoon in Washington with the Federal
Election Commission. The formation of an exploratory
committee allows Romney to raise and spend money for a
confirmation of his plans comes after a 10-day period of
contemplation during a family vacation in Utah and follows
several years in which he acknowledged he was
considering a White House run but hadn't made a final
decision about pursuing the presidency. If elected, Romney
would be the nation's first Mormon president.
governor joins a GOP field in which Sen. John McCain of
Arizona and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani have
grabbed the lead in early polling. Both created
exploratory committees late last year.
candidates include Kansas senator Sam Brownback and
former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, who have
established exploratory committees. California
representative Duncan Hunter and former Virginia
governor Jim Gilmore have said they intend to follow
suit. Others said to be mulling a bid include Arkansas
governor Mike Huckabee, New York governor George
Pataki, Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, and former
Oklahoma governor Frank Keating.
In recent weeks
Romney has faced questions about his conservative
credentials on issues such as gay rights and abortion.
Romney challenged Democratic senator Edward Kennedy in
1994, and in a letter he promised a gay Republican
group he would be a stronger advocate for gays than his
Romney ran as a
moderate during his gubernatorial campaign. Despite
saying he personally opposed abortion, he not only pledged
to leave the state's abortion laws intact but noted
that his mother, Lenore, ran for the U.S. Senate from
Michigan in 1970 as a supporter of abortion rights. He
now stresses his opposition to abortion in speeches across
In 2002, Romney's
supporters also handed out fliers with well wishes from
him and his running mate at Boston's annual gay pride
parade. And he was endorsed by the Log Cabin
Republicans, a group of gay party activists.
Romney has insisted his opposition to same-sex marriage has
been unflinching. He has lambasted the Massachusetts supreme
judicial court for its November 2003 decision making
Massachusetts the first state to legalize
Not only does
Romney diverge from conservatives on some social issues,
but many evangelical Christians don't consider the Mormon
Church a true branch of Christianity.
makes him the third Massachusetts resident to run for
the White House in recent years, following Democrats Michael
S. Dukakis and John Kerry in 1988 and 2004. Neither
Romney's announcement as he arrived at the statehouse on
Wednesday to witness the swearing-in of new legislators.
''Here's a guy who left the governor's office about
two years ago, and now he says he wants to run for
president?'' Dukakis said. ''Doesn't make a lot of sense
Romney, 59, is the son of former Michigan governor George
Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1968.
Mitt Romney received his B.A. in 1971 from Brigham
Young University and then went on to simultaneously
earn degrees from Harvard Business and Law schools,
graduating cum laude from law school and in the top 5% of
his business school class.
in Boston, where he helped found a multibillion-dollar
venture capital firm and amassed a multimillion-dollar
fortune. He rose to national prominence when he
successfully resurrected the 2002 Olympic Winter Games
in Salt Lake City, which were mired in a bribery scandal.
His only major
failure was the unsuccessful campaign against Kennedy in
1994, although he performed better than many pundits had
Romney was reared
in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., an exclusive suburb of
Detroit. His father was chairman of American Motors Corp.
and has been credited with coining the phrases
''compact car'' and ''gas-guzzling dinosaur.''
Romney sought and
won the chairmanship of the Republican Governors
Association, allowing him to spend the 2006 midterm election
traveling the country and dispensing cash to his
party's gubernatorial candidates. He raised a record
$20 million and was especially generous with governors
association money in states with early presidential
primaries or caucuses, such as Iowa, Florida, and his
native Michigan. (AP)