WASHINGTON Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney this afternoon announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, allowing him to start raising money for a presidential bid he has been preparing for almost since the moment he lost the 2008 Republican nomination.
Romney made the announcement in a video posted on a new website. It was taped with little fanfare at the University of New Hampshire following a meeting between the Romney and students who said they were worried about getting a job after graduation.
“I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years. But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America's best days are still ahead,” Romney says in the video. “That is why today I am announcing my exploratory committee for the presidency of the United States.”
Romney is planning to open his campaign headquarters next month in Boston – in the same building his last campaign was based, on Commercial Street in the North End. Romney aides declined to say whether he would participate in the first GOP presidential debate, scheduled for May 5 in South Carolina.
Forming an exploratory committee is a crucial step that will allow Romney to begin raising money for his presidential campaign.
The only other top tier candidate that has announced an exploratory committee is former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Several others including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania are almost certain to enter the race as well.
Romney defiantly made the announcement as Democrats were trying to tweak him by reminding him that tomorrow is the five-year anniversary that he signed his signature health care plan into law in Massachusetts.
Democrats in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Iowa have been planning events today and tomorrow to thank him for the law and to cement in voters’ minds that his plan was the template for President Obama’s national plan.
Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh said Romney's announcement video "is just the latest example of our former governor attempting to recreate his persona and his record. He touts himself as a job creator but as governor, his jobs record was abysmal."
Walsh added: "As always, Mitt Romney has a line to sell in his announcement today, but the fact is that voters didn’t buy it in 2008 and they won’t buy it this year."
The campaign chose to make the announcement which had been anticipated for weeks in a way that was almost deliberately understated. Romney took part in a private event in New Hampshire, which his aides did not announce.
“He did mention as a presidential candidate what he would do, but I wouldn’t say he declared that he was running,” said Ashley Calderwood, a 22-year-old business administration major who was part of about 25 students who spent two hours with Romney.
“It felt really personal, and I liked that,” she added. “He seemed more human to me. It will make me pay more attention to his presidential campaign.”
Romney then put out twitter message at 3:43 p.m., and directed supporters to a new website, www.mittromney.com, that included a video announcing his candidacy. That site includes a new logo and motto for his campaign: Romney, Believe in America, with red white and blue stripes on the R of his name.
The "Believe in America" line is the revised subtitle to his book, "No Apology." When it was originally released last year, the subtitle was, "The Case for American Greatness."
Here is the full text of Romney's full video statement:
Hello, I'm Mitt Romney. This morning I spoke with a number of students here at the University of New Hampshire. Like young people all over the country, they wonder whether they'll find good jobs when they graduate.
Last week, in Nevada, I walked through a neighborhood with homes vacant or in foreclosure. Unemployment there is over 13 percent. Across the nation, over 20 million Americans still can't find a job, or have given up looking.
How has this happened in the nation that leads the world in innovation and productivity? The answer is that President Obama's policies have failed. He and virtually all the people around him have never worked in the real economy. They just don't know how jobs are created in the private sector.
That's where I spent my entire career. In 1985, I helped found a company. At first, we had ten employees; today there are hundreds.
My work led me to become deeply involved in helping other businesses, from innovative start-ups to large companies going through tough times. Sometimes I was successful and helped create jobs, other times I was not. I learned how America competes with companies in other countries, why jobs leave, and how jobs are created here at home.
Later, when I served as governor of Massachusetts, I used the skills I had learned in 25 years in business to streamline state government, balance the budget every year, and restore a $2 billion rainy day fund.
From my vantage point in business and in government, I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years. But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America's best days are still ahead.
That is why today I am announcing my exploratory committee for the presidency of the United States.
It is time that we put America back on a course of greatness, with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline in Washington.
I believe in America. I believe in the freedom and opportunity, and the principles of our constitution, that have led us to become the greatest nation in the history of the earth and I believe that these principles will confirm American's future as well.
This effort is not about a person, it is about the cause of American freedom and greatness. I'd like to ask you to join with us volunteer, donate, or just pass this along to a friend. Thanks so much.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.