(Photo: Reuters / Brian Snyder)
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney officially announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president today, in front a few hundred supporters at a New Hampshire farm.
“A few years ago, Americans did something that was, actually, very much the sort of thing Americans like to do: We gave someone new a chance to lead; someone we hadn’t known for very long, who didn’t have much of a record but promised to lead us to a better place,” Romney said in prepared remarks. “Barack Obama has failed America.”
Raising a question then Governor Bill Clinton asked of the President Bush’s administration in 1992, “Are you better off now than four years ago,” Romney pointed out the Obama administration’s rein over nine percent unemployment and dropping home prices.
“From my first day in office my No. 1 job will be to see that America once again is No. 1 in job creation,” he said.
Romney has to share the day’s spotlight with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has scheduled an appearance in southern New Hampshire later today. When asked about the timing of today’s appearance, Palin said it was “coincidental” she was in New Hampshire today.
Speaking to reporters while touring historic sites in Boston, Palin said Romney would face challenges in finding support from within the Tea Party, a base known to favor more conservative candidates like Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is also making a stop in the Granite State this afternoon.
Besides his criticism of the Obama administration, Romney devoted significant time touting his record in the private sector and as governor, pledging to “bring this country back.” Romney said he balanced his state’s budget by cutting wasteful spending without a tax increase.
Romney also touched on the health care law he signed during his tenure as governor. “The state was giving away over a billion dollars in free health care, much of it to people who could have paid something but were gaming the system,” Romney said.
Some of the Republican faithful have criticized Romney’s health care plan, saying it didn’t go far enough in reducing benefits.
It has become clear the Romney campaign is placing more emphasis on New Hampshire than Iowa. "Republicans in the Granite State have been closely watching Gov. Romney for 10 years since he was elected in Massachusetts in 2002. He needs to win in a state where voters know him best," says Rich Galen, a Republican strategist who advised Fred Thompson during his 2008 GOP presidential bid, and who is the author of Mullings.com, in an online column.
Last week, Romney made three stops across the Hawkeye state, but later told reporters he’d run a “lean” campaign in Iowa.
“I will be here plenty and you will get to know what I stand for. Iowa plays a critical role in the process of selecting our nominee and selecting our president,” Romney said.
What also remains uncertain is whether Romney’s Mormon religion will be a factor in either Iowa or New Hampshire. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who is weighing a run, is also a Mormon.
Romney’s wife, Ann, introduced her husband to the New Hampshire crowd, reminding them of her husband’s support during her own battles with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.
“There is no one I would rather turn to when there is a crisis,” Mrs. Romney said.
Ahead of Romney’s announcement, a Public Policy Poll of probable voters in Iowa found the former Massachusetts governor to be leading. He received 21 percent of the vote from Iowans polled. Palin and Herman Cain were tied for second with 15 percent. It was PPP's first Iowa poll since Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump exited the race.