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Romney downplays possible national run

Governor says state overreacting

Three days after confirming that he is testing the presidential waters, Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday that Massachusetts is hyperventilating over the subject of his political future.

''There's the hyperventilation in our state, which is really quite extraordinary, on this topic," Romney told reporters at a news conference where he introduced veteran transportation planner Luisa Paiewonsky as the new state highway commissioner.

''My guess is 50 governors are considering running and 100 senators are," Romney said. ''Most of us won't and most of us, like me, are planning on running for reelection. But to say you're never considering it would not be complete."

Other governors have conceded that they are weighing a presidential bid, but get scant, if any media coverage, Romney said.

''I understand that [Governor] Ed Rendell was here from the state of Pennsylvania and he was asked, 'Well, are you considering running for president?' and he said, 'Oh yeah, sure,' " Romney said. ''[It] wasn't even mentioned in the papers."

Romney has delivered major addresses to Republican groups around the country in recent months, fueling speculation that he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and raising questions about whether Republicans will continue their 14-year grip on the governor's office in Massachusetts.

Last Tuesday, Romney said it would be a ''fair characterization" to say that he is testing the waters for a run for president, but will wait to announce his decision this fall.

Romney said his out-of-state travels are part of his job as vice chairman of the Republican Governors' Association and as chief ambassador for the Bay State.

''I travel a great deal. It's part of my job. Mostly in Massachusetts," he said.

''Do I travel out of the state? Yeah, I do. As vice chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, I travel on occasion outside the state. Overwhelmingly, my job is based here and is located and entirely focused here."

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