Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney took a big step toward entering the 2012 Republican presidential race Monday, saying he would form a committee to explore a challenge to President Barack Obama.
Romney, an unsuccessful U.S. presidential contender in 2008, made the announcement in a video on his new website that also was released on Facebook and Twitter.
He is the second major Republican candidate to form an exploratory committee, which allows him to raise money and hire staff. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formed his own exploratory committee on March 21.
"It is time that we put America back on a course of greatness, with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline in Washington," Romney said in the video, which his staff said was filmed Monday morning in New Hampshire.
Romney enters the race as the most well-known and one of the best-funded candidates considering a Republican challenge in 2012 to Obama, a Democrat. He is seen as the clear favorite in the early primary in New Hampshire, which borders Massachusetts.
Romney is certain to face questions from Republican primary voters about his support as governor for a broad state-run healthcare program in Massachusetts that is seen as a precursor to the national plan signed into law last year by Obama.
In his 2008 race, he battled questions about the depth and sincerity of his conservative principles and questions about his Mormon faith before he eventually lost the nomination to Arizona Senator John McCain.
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