Mitt Romney, the multi-millionaire former governor of Massachusetts, kicks off his second bid for the White House on Thursday as the front-runner of a wide-open Republican field.
Romney will start his campaign in New Hampshire, the early-voting state where a win in the February primary election would boost his chance of taking the nomination and facing President Barack Obama in the November 2012 general election.
Romney has a powerful fund-raising apparatus in place. He raised an astounding $10.25 million in an eight-hour phone-a-thon in Las Vegas last month. Contacts from Romney’s days running the venture capital firm Bain Capital are another rich source of campaign donations.
“In a relatively open field, Mitt Romney at this juncture is the front-runner from an organizational and fund-raising standpoint,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
Most opinion polls show other Republican hopefuls like former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty trailing Romney by a wide margin, although surveys are volatile this early in the race.
“A lot more people like this Romney more than the 2008 Romney,” O’Connell said. “But he has to demonstrate himself to be a fiscal conservative.”