To view excerpts from Mitt Romney’s announcement speech click here.

DEARBORN, Michigan – Yesterday, Mitt Romney returned to his roots in Michigan, where he was born, to make his formal announcement and declare his candidacy for president of the United States, running as a Republican and seeking to strike an inspirational note as he called for innovation and transformation in creating a new and renewed future for the country.

Giving his speech at the spacious Henry Ford museum just outside of Detroit, flanked on every side by the products of American creativity, Romney said, “Innovation and transformation have been at the heart of America’s success. If there ever was a time when innovation and transformation were needed in government, it is now.

“We have lost faith in government, not in just one party, not in just one house, but in government.

He noted, however, that Americans have championed innovation and suggested that this is a time that calls for that kind of vital energy. Invoking the memory of his late father, George Romney, who was the Michigan governor in the 60’s, head of American Motors, and made his own bid for the presidency, he said:

The Rambler automobile [my father] championed was the first American car designed and marketed for economy and mileage. He dubbed it a compact car, a car that would slay the gas-guzzling dinosaurs. It transformed the industry.

This place is not just about automobiles; it is about innovation, innovation that transformed an industry, and in doing so, gave Americans a way of life our grandparents could never have imagined.

The DC 3 above us was the first true commercial airliner. It transformed aviation from a luxury to a standard mode of transportation.

Next to us is a Ford hybrid. It is the first giant step away from our reliance on the gasoline engine. It is already changing the world of transportation.

Just outside is Thomas Edison’s laboratory. There, electricity that Benjamin Franklin discovered was transformed from a novelty into a necessity.

Positioning himself as a Washington outsider who can bring the needed innovation to government, he said:

We are weary of the bickering and bombast, fatigued by the posturing and self-promotion. For even as America faces a new generation of challenges, the halls of government are clogged with petty politics and stuffed with peddlers of influence.

It is time for innovation and transformation in Washington. It is what our country needs. It is what our people deserve.

I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician. There have been too many deals, too many favors, too many entanglements ? and too little real world experience managing, guiding, leading.

In a stroke, then, Romney sought to set himself apart in competence and real world experience. He is the candidate who “has pursued innovation and transformation. It has taught me the vital lessons that come only from experience, from failures and successes, from the private, public and voluntary sectors, from small and large enterprise, from leading a state, from being in the arena, not just talking about it. Talk is easy, talk is cheap. It is doing that is hard. And it is only in doing that hope and dreams come to life.”

“I do not believe Washington can be transformed by someone who has never tried doing such a thing before, in any setting, by someone who has never even managed a corner store, let alone the largest enterprise in the world,” he said.

Considered a top-tier candidate for the Republican nomination, he runs to the right of Senator John McCain and Rudi Giuliani on family issues, but a big challenge for Romney is to convince social conservatives that he is their man. His announcement speech made an obvious reference to their concerns.

It has been said that a person is defined by what he loves and by what he believes and by what he dreams.

I love America and I believe in the people of America.

I believe in God and I believe that every person in this great
country, and every person on this grand planet, is a child of God. We are all sisters and brothers.

I believe the family is the foundation of America ? and that we must fight to protect and strengthen it.

I believe in the sanctity of human life.

I believe that people and their elected representatives should make our laws, not unelected judges.

I believe we are overtaxed and government is overfed.
Washington is spending too much money.

I believe that homeland security begins with securing our borders.

I believe the best days of this country are ahead of us, because ? I believe in America!

In talking of families, Romney rang a tone that sounded familiar to Latter-day Saints:

At America’s core are millions of individual families: families of children and parents, aunts and uncles and cousins, grandparents, foster parents. There is no work more important for our nation’s future than the work done in the home.

But the work done in the home isn’t getting easier. Values and morals that have long shaped the development of our children are under constant attack. In too many cases, schools are failing. For some, healthcare is inadequate. Family expenses and government taxes take a larger and larger bite. America cannot continue to lead the family of nations if we fail the families at home.

How is the American family made stronger? With marriage before children. With a mother and a father in the life of every child. With healthcare that is affordable and portable. With schools that succeed. With taxes that are lower. And with leaders who strive to demonstrate enduring values and morality.

This is a bolder statement than many might realize at a time when many are pushing a “family diversity” model and thinking of marriage only in terms of adult rights and needs. Romney also didn’t shy away from the question of Iraq.

He said:

Across the nation, there is debate about our future course in Iraq. Our desire to bring our troops home, safely and soon, is met with our recognition that if Iraq descends into all-out civil war, millions could die; that Iraq’s Sunni region could become a base for Al Qaeda; that its Shia region could be seized by Iran; that Kurd tension could destabilize Turkey; and even that the broader Middle East could be drawn into conflict.

The possible implications for America and for American interests from such developments could be devastating. It could mean a future with far more military involvement and far more loss of American life. For these reasons, I believe that so long as there is a reasonable prospect of success, our wisest course is to seek stability in Iraq, with additional troops endeavoring to secure the civilian population.

And no matter how Iraq is resolved, we must honor and care for the veterans who risked their lives, and for the families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice. Our nation has a sacred pact with those who defend freedom. It is a pact we must never break!

Mitt said it is time to build a new American dream:

How will this new American dream be built? Our hopes and dreams will inspire us, for we are an optimistic people. But hope alone is just crossing fingers, when what we need is industrious hands. It is time for hope and action. It is time to do, as well as to dream!

As we look around us in this museum, we see the evidence of American innovation ? airplanes, automobiles, appliances. But these are not America’s greatest innovation. America’s greatest innovation is freedom. Without freedom, we have nothing. With freedom, nothing can hold us back.

Freedom has made the American dream possible. Freedom will make the new American dream possible. And with the work, sacrifice, and greatness of spirit of the American people, freedom has made America ? and will keep America ? the greatest nation on earth. God bless America.

So Romney’s hat is in the ring, and, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, he becomes the sixth member of the Church to seek the White House.

2007 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.