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KSL TV/BOSTON (AP) -- Republican Gov. Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he will not seek a second term next year, fueling speculation he will seek the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
"My decision comes down to this: In this four-year term, we can accomplish what I set out to do. In fact, we've already accomplished a great deal," he said.
This has to be one of the worst kept secrets in recent political history, as many observers have viewed Romney as angling for a presidential run for some time, even dating back to his days in Utah.
Earlier this year the man who ran Salt Lake's Olympic effort declared he was "testing the waters." He's recently traveled to early primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa and has been giving campaign cash to other candidates around the country. Late this afternoon he made it all but official, saying he won't run for reelection as governor.
"Serving as governor is one of the greatest honors of my life," he said. "A year from now, it will be time for me to pass that privilege to someone else. I will not be a candidate for re-election."
His speech made no mention of whether Romney planned to run for president.
The 58-year-old businessman, son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, has spent less than three years in elective office, but in that time the state has closed a $3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, schools have scored first in national math and science tests and Romney held out until the Legislature gave him a tough new drunken driving law he demanded.
Romney began calling supporters and other political figures during the afternoon to let them know of his decision, which was not a complete surprise. Romney had declared earlier this year he was "testing the waters" for a White House run.
Serving just one term allows Romney to leave with his record intact and focus on the presidential race, said Stuart Rothenberg, an independent political analyst in Washington.
"He doesn't want to run for re-election because he could possibly get beat," he said. "And he doesn't want to run for re-election because he could possibly win, and then have to turn around and start running for president immediately."
Dan Jones, Pollster: "Yes he's running for President. So you'll hear him announce he's got a committee looking into it. Oh yeah, Mitt Romney is running."
Pollster Dan Jones says Romney could be considered one of the top five Republican candidates, and possibly in the top three in a field, which could include Senator John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudi Guiliani.
Jones says Romney is viewed as smart and articulate, but would have to overcome questions about his religion and his inconsistent positions on some hot-button issues.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)