Romney Officially Enters '08 Presidential Race

Former Governor Mitt Romney, R-Mich., kicks off a White House campaign today, suggesting his record positions him to tackle the country's challenges. (Photo courtesy
Former Governor Mitt Romney, R-Mich., kicks off a White House campaign today, suggesting his record positions him to tackle the country's challenges. (Photo courtesy

He is the former Republican governor of blue state Massachusetts. He made his fortune in venture capital. And today, emphasizing his Midwestern roots in his home state of Michigan, where his father was a three-term governor, Mitt Romney declared his candidacy for president.

In front of a vintage Rambler at the Ford Museum, Romney paid homage to his past, discussed the importance of faith and family and talked about America's future.

"It has been said that a person is defined by what he loves and by what he believes and by what he dreams. I love America and I believe in the people of America," Romney said.

Romney also touted his real world experience, a subtle dig at other candidates in the presidential pool, saying he did not believe Washington could be changed by a "lifelong politician" or "someone who has never tried doing such a thing before."

"Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation. It has taught me the vital lessons that come only from experience, from failures and successes, from the private, public and voluntary sectors, from small and large enterprise, from leading a state, from being in the arena, not just talking about it."

"Talk is easy, talk is cheap," Romney said. "It is doing that is hard. And it is only in doing that hope and dreams come to life."

Known as a shrewd businessman, Romney also balanced the Bay State's budget during his time as its governor. It's the same way he rescued the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, balancing the budget and putting the Games back on their feet.

"He would roll up his sleeves and be immersed in the details and deal with every problem," said Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.

Romney's harshest swear is "bloomin." He doesn't drink or smoke, and his lone vice -- sugary cereal before bedtime.

Romney spent his high school years in the elite Cranbook Schools in the wealthy northern suburbs of Detroit. His classmates describe him as a prankster, and like President Bush he was a cheerleader.

He married his high school sweetheart, Ann. Together, they have five grown children and 10 grandchildren. In 1998 Ann was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which helps explain Romney's approval of embryonic stem cell research, though only on embryos left over from fertility treatments.

More recently, Romney has been accused of changing positions and having a mixed position on both stem cell research and abortion. In 1994, when he tried to unseat Sen.Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., he was for abortion rights...but not anymore.

"Not everything I believed 12 or 13 years ago is the same today," Romney says. "And so about two years ago, I said I am pro-life."

One article asked: Can Romney overcome the two M's -- Massachusetts and Mormonism?

An ABC News Poll found 35 percent of Americans say they'd be less likely to vote a Mormon into the White House.

Romney is not the first Mormon to run for president. But he said his highest responsibility will be to the constitution and laws, not his religion.

"What I expect people to do is say there are differences between faiths," says Romney. "Theology is different. But we don't judge a candidate based on the theology of the religion they grew up in."

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Posted by R. Smith, KTRE-TV