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Can Romney rise to top of GOP presidential pack?

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On paper, Mitt Romney should be a strong contender for the Republican presidential nomination: He can boast successes as an executive in business, in saving the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and as governor of Massachusetts, in a country that in recent decades has tended to elect governors president.

Mr. Romney is telegenic and articulate, and presents the all-American family – wife Ann, five sons, five daughters-in-law, 10 grandchildren. And in a race where early money is more important than ever, he raised $6.5 million in just one day in January, soon after announcing his exploratory committee. He also has more congressional backers (26) than even top contender Sen. John McCain of Arizona (who has 21), according to a Los Angeles Times survey.

But to a majority of Americans, he is either "Mitt Who?" or if they have heard of him, they don't have an opinion. In national polls of GOP voters, he posts single digits, trailing far behind the front- runners for his party's nomination.

So, after Romney's formal announcement of candidacy on Tuesday, the question is: Can he be a giant-killer and grab the Republican nomination from his far-better-known rivals, Senator McCain and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani?

Of course he can, analysts say. It's early. Anything is possible. But along the way, he will face significant hurdles. The factor getting the most attention is his Mormon faith, and polls that show a significant portion of Americans saying they would not be willing to elect a Mormon president. The latest poll, released by Gallup on Tuesday, found that 24 percent of Americans would not be willing to vote for a "generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be Mormon" in the general election.


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