April 11, (Reuters) - Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said on Monday he would form a committee to explore a run for the Republican nomination to take on President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Romney, 64, would be making his second run for the White House after falling short in the race to be the Republican nominee in 2008 to John McCain. Romney has been an early front-runner in some polls, given his high name recognition and a sophisticated fund-raising machine.
Here are some facts about the man who could become Obama's Republican challenger next year.
* Romney's best known achievement as governor was statewide healthcare reform that became a model for Obama's national policy. That has created a tricky situation for Romney. Some Republican opponents have demanded that he repudiate his healthcare program, while Democrats have gone out of their way to praise the program.
* He is a fifth-generation Mormon whose forebears were involved in the U.S.-based religious movement from the mid-19th century. Like most young Mormons, Romney spent time as a missionary, spending 30 months in France from July 1966. His Mormon faith might hinder him among evangelical Christians 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 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 budgets and boosted fund-raising. By most measures the Games were regarded as a major success and also turned a tidy profit.
* Originally a management consultant, Romney went on to head Bain Capital, a private equity firm that executed leveraged buyouts and corporate turnarounds, where he amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune. He did not take a salary as governor of Massachusetts or when running the Olympic Games.
* Romney's critics charge 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 more from the center in liberal Massachusetts.
* He grew up in Michigan, the son of George Romney, an automobile executive and three-term governor of the state. He graduated from Brigham Young university in Utah and later from Harvard with a joint MBA/law degree.
* Romney and wife 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.