Mitt Romney 2007 AP
Mitt Romney Photo by AP
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Willard Mitt Romney secured his place early on as the front-runner among the candidates for the Republican nomination, despite a brief retreat when Rick Perry entered the race.

At the moment, he has found a chief rival in Newt Gingrich, who surged ahead in an early Iowa poll in December to 25 percent, compared to his own 18 percent in the same poll. Candidate Ron Paul trailed behind Romney in Iowa with a close 17 percent.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who lost the 2008 Republican nomination to John Cain, is considered mainstream compared to the other candidates vying for the 2012 nomination. His moderate stance has some staunch Republicans wary, accusing him of flip-flopping on policy.

When it comes to Israel, Romney has emerged an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama, and has firmly declared that the U.S. must maintain its policy of standing by its allies.

Birthday
March 12, 1947

State
Massachusetts (Originally from Michigan)

Previous positions
70th Governor of Massachusetts (2003 to 2007)
Ran for the Republican nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, finished in second place to John McCain

Other information:
Author of "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness"
Served as Mormon missionary in his youth

Chances of winning party nomination
Was regarded as the frontrunner until Gingrich passed him in an early December poll.

Quotes

On Israel
• "President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends."
• "State taxpayers should not be providing special treatment to an individual who supports violent jihad and the destruction of the state of Israel."
• "He [Obama] has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends."
• "[Obama] seems firmly and clearly determined to undermine our longtime friend and ally. He’s treating Israel the same way so many European countries have: with suspicion, distrust and an assumption that Israel is at fault."

On the Palestinian UN bid:

"American leadership will also focus multilateral institutions like the United Nations on achieving the substantive goals of democracy and human rights enshrined in their charters. Too often, these bodies prize the act of negotiating over the outcome to be reached. And shamefully, they can become forums for the tantrums of tyrants and the airing of the world’s most ancient of prejudices: anti-Semitism. The United States must fight to return these bodies to their proper role. But know this: while America should work with other nations, we always reserve the right to act alone to protect our vital national interests."

On Iran
"Stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons," said Romney. "It will not..... Once an outstretched hand is met with a clenched fist, it becomes a symbol of weakness and impotence."
(AIPAC meeting, San-Diego, October 2011)

Official website:
http://www.mittromney.com/