Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney Monday took his first formal step towards launching another bid for the White House.
The former Massachusetts governor, who was a candidate for 2008 Republican presidential nomination, announced that he was setting up a presidential exploratory committee.
"From my vantage point in business and in government, I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years. But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America's best days are still ahead," says Romney, in a video to supporters. "That is why today I am announcing my Exploratory Committee for the Presidency of the United States."
Romney spends most of his time in the video talking about the economy, touting his experience in creating jobs and balancing budgets in the business world. Romney taped his video at the University of New Hampshire and starts his message by pointing out that he spoke Monday morning to students at the Durham, New Hampshire campus. The state holds the first primary in the presidential primary and caucus calendar and is considered a must win contest for Romney.
Monday's announcement allows Romney to begin to fundraise for a White House bid.
"While this step does not constitute a formal announcement of candidacy, it allows Governor Romney to be in compliance with the requirements of federal election law as he begins to raise the funds necessary to explore a potential candidacy," says an email release from Romney's campaign.
Romney raised $65.1 million in contributions for his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination. In addition he loaned his campaign $42.3 million from his personal funds.
As of Monday afternoon, Romney's "statement of organization" and the letter serving as his "statement of candidacy" are both now on file with the Federal Election Commission.
Romney is the second major GOP candidate to announce an exploratory committee. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced an exploratory committee on March 21. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and conservative radio talk show host and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain have also formed exploratory committees.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich filed paperwork with the IRS in March to form a fundraising committee to "explore" the possibility of a presidential bid.
Romney's announcement comes one day before the fifth anniversary of the signing by the former Massachusetts governor of a universal health care law in the Bay state. The measure, which has been criticized by some fellow Republicans, could hurt Romney with GOP primary and caucus voters.
Massachusetts Democrats are holding a party Tuesday to mark the occasion, including a "Thank You Mitt Romney" cake. And next door in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the race for the White House, Democratic party officials are urging supporters to tweet Romney to thank him for standing "shoulder-to-shoulder with Senator Kennedy to sign Massachusetts' historic health care reform law."
But senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tells CNN that "somehow I'm not surprised that Democrats are sitting around eating cake while 14 million unemployed Americans are struggling to put food on their table."
On April 12, 2006, the then Republican governor in a state dominated by Democrats, signed into law a health care plan that would insure almost every resident of Massachusetts. At the time, it was praised by supporters of health care reform as a landmark achievement for Romney. The lynchpin of the law was an insurance mandate that required the people of Massachusetts to get health insurance.
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who is expected to make a run for the GOP presidential nomination, has been critical of the Massachusetts law, as has former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the White House in 2008 and may make another bid for the Republican nomination in 2012.
Romney addressed his record in a March speech, explaining the law was a "state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts."
"Our experiment wasn't perfect. Some things worked. Some didn't. And some things I'd change," Romney said. "One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover."
Romney is considered by many handicappers to be one of the favorites to win his party's presidential nomination. Most national polls of possible Republican primary and caucus voters put Romney at or near the top in the battle for the nomination.
Romney's brought back many, but not all, of his advisers from his 2008 bid. Monday's announcement wasn't leaked prior to the message going up on Romney's campaign website, a sign that his closest advisers are keeping on message and staying disciplined.