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Romney Latest Republican Joins 2008 US Presidential Race

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the latest Republican to join the race for president in 2008. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has details from Washington.

Mitt Romney announced his candidacy in front of supporters in his home state of Michigan.

"I believe we are overtaxed and government is overfed," he said. "Washington is spending too much money. I believe that homeland security begins with securing our borders. I believe the best days of this country are ahead of us, because I believe in America."

Romney, 59, said it is time for innovation and transformation in Washington. But he also said it would have to be done by a Washington outsider, not by what he called lifelong politicians who have been involved in too many deals and too many entanglements.

On foreign policy, Romney said the U.S. role in the world should be defined not just by might, but also by a willingness to lead, serve and share with other nations.

"We must extend our hand to Africa's poor and diseased and brutalized," he added. "We must lead the world's civilized nations in a partnership that will support moderate Muslim nations and peoples, to help them embrace principles of modernity and defeat violent Jihad."

On Iraq, Romney supports President Bush's troop surge and says that failure in Iraq could be devastating for the U.S. and the region.

Romney's father, George Romney, served as governor of Michigan in the 1960's and made an unsuccessful bid for president in 1968.

Mitt Romney served one term as governor of Massachusetts and now hopes to appeal to conservative Republican voters on a national scale.

But some social conservatives are suspicious of past comments he made while running for office in Massachusetts that indicated more moderate views on social issues such as abortion and homosexual rights.

Romney also faces a challenge in convincing voters that his Mormon religious beliefs will not be an issue in the campaign. Mormons consider themselves Christians, but other churches reject some of the beliefs handed down by the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, in the early 1800's.

Some recent polls suggest a substantial number of Americans would not vote for a Mormon for president.

Romney joins a crowded Republican presidential field that is expected to include Arizona Senator John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Public opinion polls indicate McCain and Giuliani have the most support among Republicans at the moment.

Giuliani was trying to build on that support during a recent campaign swing through California.

"Presidents have to make decisions and move the country forward, and that is the kind of president that I would like to be," said Giuliani.

Other Republicans who are either running for president or who have taken initial steps to do so include Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, California Congressman Duncan Hunter, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.