STRATHAM, N.H. — Mitt Romney plans to enter the race for the 2012 Republican nomination formally today at a chili cookout at Bittersweet Farm — a name that may say a lot about voters' views of the presumptive GOP front-runner.
The former Massachusetts governor is far ahead in the latest poll in this state, which traditionally holds the nation's first presidential primary. But the same survey shows most voters have not firmly settled on a candidate yet, and many aren't satisfied with the Republican field.
Romney's political problems and promise mirror the New Hampshire voters' dilemma. Folks here are familiar with him — he ran second in the state's 2008 presidential primary and served as governor of neighboring Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.
But that means people also are aware of a record with twists and turns, and many wonder if a somewhat-flawed Romney is their best bet to beat President Barack Obama.
Potential candidates are flooding into the state. The first New Hampshire debate is scheduled for June 13. Today, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is scheduled to attend a luncheon in North Conway and to speak to Republican activists in Dover. Friday, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will sail on the Belknap County GOP's "First in the Nation" presidential dinner cruise.
Romney, 64, who has a home in Wolfeboro, N.H., plans to begin his candidacy formally at the 300-acre farm of former state House Speaker Doug Scamman and his wife, Stella.
A CNN/WMUR survey May 18-22 found Romney to be the choice of 33 percent of those who planned to vote in the GOP primary, far ahead of runner-up Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 9 percent. Next were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 7 percent, and Giuliani and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, each with 6 percent.
Meanwhile in New York on Wednesday, Sarah Palin continued testing the waters for a possible presidential bid when she took a boat to Liberty Island on a family vacation, earning shrieks and applause from tourists. Palin, a former governor of Alaska, took a National Park Service boat to tour the Statue of Liberty with her parents and daughter, Piper.
On Wednesday, several news outlets reported that the state of Alaska is about to release more than 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin's e-mails from her time as governor.