|Romney plans to hold a fund-raiser this month. (Jim Cole/Associated Press)|
Romney on verge of launching presidential bid
Governor Mitt Romney will submit the necessary paperwork this week to form a presidential exploratory committee, but not until funeral services for President Gerald R. Ford have concluded, according to a top aide familiar with his plans.
Romney will file by tomorrow with the Federal Election Commission, the aide said, a registration that will allow him to raise and spend money in pursuit of the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
Romney, like Ford, is from Michigan. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have already taken the same step.
Romney ended a 10-day vacation at his home in Utah yesterday, and he had initially intended to file his paperwork today, the first business day of the new year.
But Ford's death on Dec. 26 triggered a mourning period that will close federal offices and the US Postal Service today.
"We want to be very, very respectful of that," said the Romney aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity pending the creation of the presidential committee.
Ford's death overshadowed last week's presidential announcement by former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who declared he would seek the Democratic nomination.
While the committee filing will be labeled "exploratory," it will declare Romney as an official presidential candidate and commit him to the same fund-raising and reporting rules he will have to follow when, as is expected, he makes the transition to a formal presidential campaign committee.
A formal announcement is expected this year, although Romney is planning a major fund-raising event in Boston this month to propel his candidacy.
At 5 p.m. tomorrow, Romney will take the "lone walk" down the 31 steps of the Massachusetts State House, a ceremonial departure reserved for presidents, heads of state, and departing governors.
On Thursday, Democrat Deval Patrick will be sworn in, the first black governor in the state's history and only the second elected in the nation since Reconstruction.