BOSTON Republican heavyweight Mitt Romney said on Monday he is kicking off his campaign for the White House in earnest with a day-long fundraising event in Las Vegas likely to bring in several million dollars.
"We're activating our campaign today," Romney told supporters on a conference call.
Aides said some 700 Romney fans had gathered to staff a massive phone bank, and they expect to announce how much money was raised later in the day.
Romney is still a step short of formally announcing a second bid for the Republican primary nomination, but has been on an extensive fund-raising tour and has started to step up his public appearances as well.
The former Massachusetts governor touted his record as a turnaround specialist who can get the U.S. economy on track.
"The American people care about getting good jobs," Romney said during the eight-minute call. "That is my wheelhouse."
Romney cited his experience running the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, as Massachusetts governor, and as head of the private equity firm Bain Capital.
"My experience, my history is in turning things around. I will get America on the right track again."
Critics say Romney presided over one of the weakest rates of employment growth in the United States when he ran Massachusetts, and that Bain Capital often turned around the companies it acquired with large layoffs.
Some of the biggest criticism Romney faces is for the health care reform he instigated in Massachusetts, which bears similarities to President Barack Obama's 2010 health care program opposed by many Republicans.
As he did last week during a speech on health care in Michigan, Romney promised "a return to the principles of federalism" in allowing each state to set its own health care agenda.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)