Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is making plans for his campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination in two phases early next month, a top adviser told The Associated Press on Friday.
The Massachusetts chief executive is expected to file paperwork as early as Jan. 2 with the Federal Election Commission, establishing a presidential campaign committee and permitting himself to begin raising money for his race on the first business day of the new year. Romney will leave office on Jan. 4.
As soon as the week of Jan. 8, Romney will hold a ceremony to officially declare his candidacy, said the adviser, a top aide who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the official filing.
The timing is somewhat dependent on when Sen. John McCain of Arizona makes an expected announcement about his own campaign for the GOP nomination, the Romney aide said. McCain has formed a presidential exploratory committee but held off declaring his candidacy.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has also formed an exploratory committee.
Before leaving for a 10-day ski vacation at his home in Deer Valley, Utah, Romney told reporters he would use the holiday gathering with his family to make a decision about a campaign. In total, 22 people will gather at the Romney vacation home outside Salt Lake City, including his five sons, their wives, his 10 grandchildren, and Romney’s wife, Ann.
“I’ve got a lot of data. Now I have to sit down with my family and spend some time,” the 59-year-old former venture capitalist said after ringing a Salvation Army bell at a downtown shopping mall. Romney gained international attention in 2002 as head of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
“The real question is could I be able to make a real contribution to the people of this country, could I make America’s future brighter, and that’s something which I’ll give consideration to over the holiday,” the governor said.
Eye on wife's health
While saying that he wanted to consult with his family, Romney dismissed any thought he might be dissuaded from a campaign because of any personal concerns they might express. In the past, Romney has said the only thing that would prompt an immediate end to his political career would be a change in the health of his wife, who has multiple sclerosis.
“You know, there are a lot of people that make a lot greater sacrifices than politicians — myself included — and I saw them in Guantanamo, I saw them at the border of North Korea and South Korea, I saw them in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Romney said. “So, I’m not focused on the sacrifices that I or my family would make. I’m focused instead on the needs of this country and whether I could make a difference.”
In one small sign he will likely mount a campaign, the governor could be overheard at a second charity stop outside Faneuil Hall asking a local comedian who happened by if he could help him write jokes for an appearance next spring at Washington’s annual Gridiron Club dinner. The gathering is a regular stop for national politicians and White House aspirants.
Romney spent part of the week in Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the lead presidential voting states. Earlier this month he made a political trip through the South, before using personal money to fund a fact-finding trip to Japan, South Korea and China. He added to his foreign credentials this year with trips to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Iowa on Wednesday, Romney reiterated his support for President Bush and said a withdrawal from Iraq “would be a mistake.”
In New Hampshire on Thursday, he deflected conservative concerns about his record on gay marriage and abortion. He said he now describes himself as “firmly pro-life,” despite citing his tolerance for abortion rights during his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, after researching the embryonic stem cell issue.