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Profile: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney would be a popular choice among fiscal conservatives
He has the looks, the personality and the money to be a credible running mate to Republican presidential hopeful John McCain.

Mitt Romney also has a strong economic background, unlike Senator McCain who has admitted that he does not know as much about the economy as he should.

But much of the attention Mr Romney attracted during his own unsuccessful bid for the party's nomination was due to two factors: his Mormon faith, and his apparent switch from technocrat to social conservative.

Mr Romney attempted to run as Ronald Reagan's legitimate heir, a "conservative's conservative" who could reach out beyond the Republican base.

But in the party's primaries he faced a credibility problem from voters who were not convinced by his conversion from liberal Massachusetts governor to staunch right-winger.

Conservatives were also sceptical of his changed views on social issues like abortion - a factor which could lead Senator McCain to think twice about picking him.

Mr McCain is himself viewed with suspicion by his party's Christian right, and he may want to choose a vice-presidential nominee who can reach out to this key constituency.

MITT ROMNEY
Born 12 March 1947 in Detroit, Michigan
Educated at Brigham Young University and Harvard
Businessman, 1975-1999
Chair of Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, 1999-2002
Governor of Massachusetts, 2003-2007

What served to alienate Mr Romney from some voters was that he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - a Mormon.

Mormons say they are Christians but are regarded with suspicion by some other Christian groups, and polls suggested that one-quarter to one-third of Americans would not vote for a Mormon for president.

Key player

But Mr Romney has clear strengths. He has already been well tested during his own bid for the Republican nomination and has high name recognition.

Mr Romney began his career as a businessman in Boston, and is credited with helping to turn around his management consulting company, Bain & Company, when he took over as chief executive officer in 1990.

Mr Romney moved to Utah and made a success of the 2002 Winter Olympics, which had been mired in a corruption scandal, positioning himself to run for governor of Massachusetts as a results-oriented pragmatist.

Also in 2002, he became governor of traditionally liberal Massachusetts.

Two major developments during his tenure as governor became issues during his presidential campaign: the passage of a law requiring all adults in the state to have health insurance, and a court decision requiring Massachusetts to let gay people marry.

John McCain and Mitt Romney
The two men are said to have become friends since the primary battles

The health-insurance law was the first of its kind in the United States, a country with no national health service, and Mr Romney was a key player in getting it passed.

He was far from supportive of the gay marriage decision, however.

His public opposition to the court-ruling marked the beginning of his recasting himself as a social conservative.

Admirers say he had always held socially conservative views, though he had appeared to back gay rights and access to abortion in the past.

Critics say his change of tune was opportunistic as he positioned himself to run for president in 2008 as the standard bearer of Christian conservatives.

His fundraising ability and well-organised campaigning helped catapult Mr Romney into the top ranks of Republican contenders through 2007.

But a late surge by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee derailed Mr Romney's strategy in the key early voting state of Iowa.

Mr Huckabee won in Iowa, and Mr McCain won in the other crucial early voting state of New Hampshire.

After he conceded defeat, Mr Romney's lukewarm endorsement of Mr McCain, whom he praised only for his stand on Iraq, suggested that the Republican civil war had not ended.

Since then, however, Mr Romney has been actively campaigning for Mr McCain.

Mr McCain will have to decide whether picking his former rival as his running mate would help bring that conflict to an end.


Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
365
McCain - Republican
173
Select from the list below to view state level results.

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