June 1 (Reuters) - Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney officially kicks off his second campaign on Thursday for the Republican presidential nomination.
Romney, 64, who fell to John McCain in the race to be the Republican nominee in 2008, has been an early front-runner in many polls for the chance to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. [ID:nN01211188]
Here are some facts about the potential nominee:
* Romney's best-known achievement as governor was statewide healthcare reform that became a model for President Barack Obama's national policy. Romney has defended the state law while attacking the federal version, a tricky balancing act. He has said he would repeal Obama's plan.
* He is a fifth-generation Mormon whose forebears were involved in the U.S.-based religious movement from the mid-19th century. Romney spent 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary from July 1966, during the Vietnam War. His Mormon faith might hinder him among evangelical Christian voters who are most prevalent in the southern United States.
* Romney stepped in to rescue the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He was tapped as president and CEO of the Olympics organizing committee in 1999 after the games were tarred by allegations of bribery by top officials and were far behind revenue benchmarks. He brought in a new management team, cut costs and boosted fund-raising. By most measures the games were regarded as a major success, and turned a tidy profit.
* Animal rights groups criticized him during the 2008 campaign for an incident in 1983 when he drove 12 hours to Canada from Boston on vacation with the family dog in a kennel strapped to the roof of their car.
* Originally a management consultant, Romney went on to head Bain Capital, a private equity firm that executed leveraged buyouts and corporate turnarounds, enabling him to amass a multimillion-dollar fortune. He did not take a salary as governor of Massachusetts or when running the Olympic Games.
* Romney's critics charge that he has remade himself as a social conservative, shifting positions on issues such as abortion, gay rights and gun control, to position himself for the Republican nomination after governing from the center in liberal Massachusetts.
* He grew up in Michigan the son of George Romney, three-term governor of the state and an automobile executive. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah and later from Harvard University with a joint MBA/law degree.
* Romney and high-school sweetheart Ann, who married in 1969, have five sons and 16 grandchildren. They have homes in Belmont, Massachusetts; Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire; and La Jolla, California.
* Romney has written two books: 2010's "No Apology; The Case for American Greatness," which was renamed in the 2011 paperback edition as "No Apology: Believe in America" and broadly lays out the candidate's policy manifesto, and 2007's "Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games." (Reporting by Ros Krasny, editing by Philip Barbara)