- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Mitt Romney officially entered the 2008 presidential race Tuesday, a former one-term Republican governor of Massachusetts suggesting that his record of leadership inside and outside government uniquely positions him to tackle the country’s challenges.

“I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by lifetime politicians,” Romney said, seeking to turn a potential liability, his limited political experience, into an asset. “There have been too many deals, too many favors, too many entanglements - and too little real world experience managing, guiding, leading.”

The comment was a veiled swipe at his top rival for the GOP nomination, four-term Sen. John McCain of Arizona. In elective office only four years, Romney is not nearly as well known nationally as McCain and former two-term New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, political celebrities who consistently lead popularity polls.

A serious contender even though he is little more than a blip in such surveys, Romney is seeking to convince Republican primary voters that his record of success in the private, public and voluntary sectors proves he has the know-how to lead a country at a crossroads.

The public, he said, has lost faith in government.

“It is time for innovation and transformation in Washington,” Romney said. “It is what our country needs. It is what our people deserve.”

And, he said, he is the candidate who has proven he can deliver.

“Talk is easy, talk is cheap. It is the doing that’s hard. And it is only in doing that hopes and dreams can come to life,” Romney added.

A successful venture capitalist who amassed a fortune and the savior of the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Romney hopes the party’s conservative wing will focus on his deft managerial skills - and set aside any uneasiness it may have about his credentials on issues it holds dear and his faith. If elected, Romney will be the nation’s first Mormon president.

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