Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the closest to a front-runner in a wide-open Republican field, took a major step toward a second White House candidacy Monday, formally announcing a campaign exploratory committee.
Romney declared that "with able leadership, America's best days are still ahead," vigorously asserting that President Barack Obama had failed to provide it.
The Republican, who has been plotting a comeback since losing the GOP presidential nomination to John McCain three years ago, offered himself as the person best able to lead a country struggling to recover from economic crisis.
"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, a former venture capitalist with a record of turning around failing companies, said in a video posted on his website and on Facebook. He also announced the formation of the committee, which will allow him to raise money, in a Twitter message.
Romney's move had been expected and a full-fledged campaign is a near certainty. He has traveled across the country to meet in private with donors and sound out their support. His political committee's headquarters near Boston has been bulking up. And in his few public appearances, he has honed his criticism of Obama.