Romney to launch bid soon, aide says

From the Associated Press

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is making plans to launch his campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination in two phases.

Romney is expected to file paperwork as early as Jan. 2 with the Federal Election Commission, establishing a presidential campaign committee that will permit him to begin raising money for his race on the first business day of the new year. Romney will leave office Jan. 4.

As early as the week of Jan. 8, Romney will hold a ceremony to officially declare his candidacy, said a top aide who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the filing.

The timing is somewhat dependent on when Sen. John McCain of Arizona makes an expected announcement about his own campaign for the GOP nomination, the aide said.

The senator has formed a presidential exploratory committee but has not declared his candidacy.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has also formed an exploratory committee.

Before leaving for a 10-day ski vacation in Deer Valley, Utah, Romney told reporters he would use the holiday gathering with his family to decide about a campaign.

Nearly two dozen people will gather at the Romney vacation home outside Salt Lake City, including his five sons, their wives, his 10 grandchildren and Romney's wife, Ann.

"I've got a lot of data. Now I have to sit down with my family and spend some time," the 59-year-old former venture capitalist said.

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