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Romney adds to his US travels

Trips to 3 states prompt criticism

Governor Mitt Romney is taking advantage of a typically slow school vacation week on Beacon Hill to add to his frequent-flier miles.

Romney, who is considering a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, is making stops in Ohio, South Carolina, and New Hampshire this week. During the past weekend, he visited Utah, along with another trip to South Carolina.

Critics say the latest schedule of trips proves that Romney is spending too much time on the road and not enough energy on problems in Massachusetts. Backers say Romney can both travel and govern, particularly with the help of Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, who announced her decision to run for governor after Romney said he would not seek re-election.

After a busy day today, during which Romney is scheduled to unveil a jobs initiative and make a personnel announcement, the governor is supposed to fly to Cincinnati to address a business group.

From there, he plans to head to South Carolina on Thursday for speeches at The Citadel and a dinner in Lexington County.

Romney is expected back in his office on Friday, before heading north that evening to another key primary state, New Hampshire, for a GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.

Those trips come after another busy weekend for Romney. On Friday, he was in South Carolina attending a private dinner with 50 political activists in Spartanburg. He downplayed presidential ambitions, saying he was there to help re-elect Governor Mark Sanford.

On Saturday, Romney had breakfast with Republican leaders and gave a speech at the Greenville County Republican Convention.

Romney also stopped in Utah before returning to Massachusetts.

Cyndi Roy, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said Romney's absenteeism is becoming routine.

''Romney being away this week or next week isn't telling of anything. His running around the country for the past year and a half is more telling," she said. ''While he's courting Republicans around the country, we have real issues that need to be taken care of back home."

A Romney spokeswoman, Julie Teer, said the travels are part of his job as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

''Governor Romney's first priority is Massachusetts, and he's working hard to create jobs, reform education, and enact healthcare reform," she said. ''Just as Mike Dukakis traveled to help fellow governors as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association," Teer said of the former governor and presidential candidate, ''Governor Romney travels to help Republican governors."

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