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Romney takes next big step toward run for president

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WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney said yesterday he is forming a committee to explore another run for the presidency, a crucial step that allows him to raise money for a bid he has been preparing for almost since he lost the 2008 Republican nomination.

With little fanfare for the much-expected move, the former Massachusetts governor revealed the decision in an understated video posted on a website and on his Facebook page. The setting — an unannounced visit yesterday morning to meet with University of New Hampshire students — was telling: The Granite State is considered a must-win primary for Romney.

“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,’’ Romney said in the video. “But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America’s best days are still ahead.’’

Romney plans to open his campaign headquarters next month in Boston — in the same building his last campaign was based, in the North End. Aides declined to say whether he would participate in the first GOP presidential debate, scheduled for May 5.

The only other top-tier candidate who has announced an exploratory committee is former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Several others, including the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, are leaning toward entering the race. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin remain key unknowns.

By announcing early, Romney has a head start on filling his campaign coffers by June 30, the end of the second quarter’s reporting period. The money race is an early barometer for a candidacy, and Romney is hoping to make a big statement about his financial strength.

“We all knew that [Romney] was going to run,’’ said Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University. “He’s really been running for president ever since the day after the 2008 election, trying in one subtle way or another to say, ‘I told ya so. You should have nominated me.’ He has a lot of establishment Republicans listening to that.’’

Romney’s biggest hurdle is his health care plan in Massachusetts, which was a template for President Obama’s national plan. Republicans have pummeled the Obama law and Romney’s rivals are expected to go after him for his role.

Romney made his announcement as Democrats were trying to tweak him by reminding voters that today was the five-year anniversary of his signing of the Massachusetts version of the health care law. Democrats in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Iowa have been holding events to help cement in voters’ minds Romney’s key role in the issue — and distributing photos of a giddy Romney laughing at his signing ceremony with the late liberal icon Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Read more at:http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2011/04/12/romney_takes_next_big_step_toward_run_for_president/

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