(David Kamerman/Globe Staff)
Secretary of State William Gardner (left) looks over Mitt Romney's official papers to get on the New Hampshire primary ballot as Romney (center) files with his wife Ann Romney, and Kathleen and US Senator Judd Gregg by his side.
By James W. Pindell, Globe correspondent
CONCORD, N.H. -- Mitt Romney took the symbolic, time-honored step this afternoon of filing his official papers to put his name on the primary ballot in New Hampshire, a state that will play a huge role in his presidential ambitions.
Romney told reporters he was "thrilled to be sitting in the seat my father sat in some 40 odd years ago," referring to George Romney, who unsuccessfully contested the 1968 GOP presidential nomination.
"I intend to follow his footsteps to a point," said Romney. "And the point is that I planning on winning the campaign."
Romney, the governor of neighboring Massachusetts for four years, has seen his lead in the New Hampshire polls narrow over the last month, as Rudy Giuliani and John McCain surge in the state.
But as he filed, Romney received a boost from the endorsement of arguably the most successful politician in New Hampshire history.
"If you would have said that I would endorse a former governor of Massachusetts I wouldn't believe you," US Senator Judd Gregg told 100 supporters at a rally on the steps of the state library. "But then again I wouldn't believe that the Red Sox would ever win two World Series in my lifetime either."
Gregg is the son of a beloved former governor who himself has never lost an election. Since the 1980s, Judd Gregg has been an executive councilor, US representative, and governor, and is now in his third term in the Senate.