Thursday, 4:30 PM
Romney formally announces run for president
(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
Mitt Romney was joined on stage by his family after announcing today he was running for president.
By Scott Helman and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
DEARBORN, Mich. -- Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney today formally announced his candidacy for president, stoking familiar Republican themes of smaller government and lower taxes while painting himself as an innovator.
Romney, who left office after one term in January, made his run official in a speech at the Henry Ford Museum outside Detroit, in the state where he grew up. He gave an address laced with references to his father, George Romney, who served as governor of Michigan and made an unsuccessful bid for the 1968 GOP nomination. While Romney talked about family and his connection to the Midwest, he held up his successes as a venture capitalist, his triumph over scandal in the 2002 winter Olympics, and his term as governor of Massachusetts as evidence he was ready to lead the nation.
"Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation," Romney said. "It's taught me the vital lessons that come only from experience, from failures and from successes, from the private, public and voluntary sectors, from small and large enterprise, from leading a state, from actually being in the arena, not just talking about it."
Supporters, friends, and family packed around a stage as he spoke, holding blue and white signs that simply said: "Mitt Romney." An all-American soundtrack pumped into the museum before he came to the podium, with songs by Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Neil Diamond, and a marching band from Divine Child High School, a Catholic school in Dearborn.
As evidence of that innovative spirit of which he spoke, Romney stood on stage next to a green Ford hybrid sport utility vehicle and a white Nash Rambler, the first economy car that his father helped develop.
"Today, Michigan gets to reclaim Mitt Romney, a man ready to lead this country," Craig DeRoche, former Michigan House speaker and Romney backer, said in an introduction before Romney took the stage.
Romney, 59, had been widely seen as a likely presidential candidate during his final year as governor of Massachusetts. In 2006, he spent more than 212 days out of the state in what many saw as a preparation for a run for the White House. Romney said today that over last Christmas, he and his wife, Ann, gathered their five sons and five daughters-in-law to ask them whether he should run for president. Their support was unanimous.
"And so, with them behind us, with the fine people of Michigan before us, and with my sweetheart beside me, I declare my intention to run for president of the United States," Romney said.
In addition to hitting the traditional GOP touchstones of lower taxes and smaller government, Romney's speech made allusions to his evolving stance on abortion, saying he believed in "the sanctity of human life." When he ran for governor, Romney pledged not to change abortion laws.
He also spoke about the traditional family being the "foundation of America," touching on his opposition to gay marriage, which was legalized by a Supreme Judicial Court ruling during his tenure as Massachusetts governor.
"I believe that people and their elected representatives should make the laws, not unelected judges," Romney said.
More than anything, Romney's speech focused on what he described as his values and successes in business and government, sounding an optimistic theme for his candidacy and ability to solve America's ills at home and abroad.
In an introduction today, Ann Romney said: "Every place that Mitt has gone, he has solved problems that people said were nearly impossible." Her husband embraced that image as a problem solver when he took the stage.
"Innovation and transformation have been at the heart of America's success," Romney said. "If there ever was a time when innovation and transformation were needed in government, it is now."