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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney formally launched his presidential campaign Thursday afternoon, offering a scathing attack on President Barack Obama in a speech delivered from a New Hampshire farm.
“It breaks my heart to see what’s happening in this country. These failing hopes make up President Obama’s own misery index. It’s never been higher. And what’s his answer? He says this: ‘I’m just getting started,’” Romney said in prepared remarks. “No, Mr. President, you’ve had your chance. We, the people on this farm, and citizens across the country are the ones who are just getting started.”
Romney’s announcement was little more than a formality. The 2008 presidential candidate, considered an early frontrunner in the 2012 Republican field, has been actively raising money, hiring staff and building a grass-roots network in key early primary states for several weeks.
And on what was supposed to be Romney’s big day, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) became a significant distraction.
Palin, who has yet to declare her presidential intentions, was in nearby Boston on Thursday as part of a peculiar Northeastern bus tour that began last weekend. Less than an hour before Romney’s speech, Palin took a shot at the Massachusetts health care system, which was, of course, signed into law by Romney.
“In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, obviously, and I am not the only to say so, but obviously there will be more explanation coming from Gov. Romney for his support of government mandates,” Palin said, according to CNN.
The Romney campaign had no public response to Palin’s comment or the timing of her tour, hastily announced last week when Romney’s intentions were already known.
Polling released Thursday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed that Palin and Romney are tied at 16 percent each among likely GOP voters. But with several candidates in the teens, the race is wide open at this point, even with the New Hampshire primary roughly seven months away.
For his part, Romney briefly addressed Massachusetts health care reform, which ultimately inspired the most controversial pieces of Obama’s health care overhaul.
“I will insist that Washington learns to respect the Constitution, including the 10th Amendment. We will return responsibility and authority to the states for dozens of government programs — and that begins with a complete repeal of Obamacare,” Romney said.