Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is one step closer to officially announcing what nearly everyone already expects — that he’ll seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2012. On his website Monday, Romney kicked off the exploratory committee phase of his campaign in the style of the day with a YouTube clip and a tweet.
The video was shot today in Durham, New Hamshire — site of the first primary next year and the place where Team Romney has pledged to make a stand against Romney’s opponents for the chance to face President Obama next fall.
In the clip, which Romney’s campaign said was recorded “at the University of New Hampshire following a meeting this morning between Gov. Romney and students who said they are worried about getting a job after graduation,” the former governor and business executive leans heavily on his experience as the latter, setting up an expected campaign theme of Romney as businessman savoir of the Republic.
“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 says in the video. “But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America’s best days are still ahead.”
Watch the video:
With his announcement today, Romney’s become the second mainstream Republican candidate to make the exploratory committee step towards an expected full-scale run. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) announced his exploratory committee on March 21. Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and extreme longshot Herman Cain announced his presidential exploratory committee back in January.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich launched his own version of an exploratory committee in early March. Team Gingrich described it as “entering the exploratory phase” but not an exploratory committee in the classic sense.
Other candidates are expected to follow Romney into the race, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. No one knows what Sarah Palin will do, but she’s a potential player as well. Donald Trump seems ready to run, too.
Early polls have shown that Romney is one of the strongest GOP candidates so far in the race. He consistently polls either first or second in national surveys of the Republican primary — an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week showed Romney leading the field at 21%, followed by Huckabee and Trump at 17% apiece.
Romney could also mount a formidable challenge to President Obama should he capture the party’s nomination. The TPM Poll Average shows Romney trailing Obama by about a four-point margin nationally, 47.4% to 43.1%.
In New Hampshire, Democrats are unimpressed with Romney’s announcement. State party chair Ray Buckley called Romney a “rudderless, coreless politician” who’s “changed his positions more often than most people change their underwear.”
“The truth is, the people of New Hampshire may never know who the real Mitt Romney is because it’s not at all clear that he does,” Buckley said in a statement. “Mitt Romney just wants to be President - plain and simple - and he’ll take any position or say anything to get there.”
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since it was first published.
Jonathan Terbush contributed