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    Mitt Romney to Formally Announce 2012 White House Bid

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with people at Farm Boys restaurant during a visit in Chapin, S.C. Republican presidential frontrunner Romney is heading to Iowa on Friday for the first time this year, May 21, 2011
    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with people at Farm Boys restaurant during a visit in Chapin, S.C. Republican presidential frontrunner Romney is heading to Iowa on Friday for the first time this year, May 21, 2011

    Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will formally announce his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination next week.

    Romney will make the announcement at an event in the neighboring state of New Hampshire next Thursday.  

    The former governor and business executive made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in 2008.  He lost the crucial New Hampshire primary that year to the eventual nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain.

    Romney has laid the groundwork for a 2012 campaign by forming a presidential exploratory committee, and raised more than $10 million in a one-day fundraising effort last week.  

    Romney is believed to the leading candidate in a growing field of Republicans seeking to defeat Democratic President Barack Obama.  Other declared candidates include ex-Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

    Meanwhile, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, McCain's vice-presidential running mate, announced plans Thursday to embark on a bus tour of the U.S. East Coast beginning Sunday in Washington.  The tour, which she has dubbed "One Nation," and other recent activities have fueled speculation she will make a White House bid.

    Palin's possible entry into the race could generate excitement among conservative Republican activists and voters, who are dissatisfied with the current list of candidates.  Palin has become a favorite of the Tea Party movement, which advocates limited government spending and authority.

    Two other potential candidates, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, are expected to announce their intentions for the 2012 race soon.  

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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