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Tuesday, January 2, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Romney prepares for White House run

The Associated Press

BOSTON — Gov. Mitt Romney this week will submit the necessary paperwork to form a presidential exploratory committee but not until funeral services for former President Ford have concluded, according to a top aide familiar with his plans.

Romney will file by Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, the aide said, a registration that will allow the Massachusetts governor to raise and spend money in pursuit of the 2008 GOP nomination.

Fellow Republicans Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani already have taken the same step.

While the committee filing will be labeled "exploratory," it will declare Romney as an official presidential candidate and commit him to the same fund-raising and reporting rules he will have to follow when, as is expected, he transitions to a formal presidential-campaign committee.

A formal announcement is expected sometime later this year, although Romney is planning a major fund-raising event in Boston on Jan. 8 to propel his candidacy.

Romney aides believe the governor, the son of George Romney, a 1968 presidential candidate and the former governor of Michigan, can find a following as a youthful alternative to McCain and a more conservative candidate than Giuliani.

If successful, Romney, 59, would become the first Mormon elected president.

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