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) -- Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is expected next week to formally announce he is seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president.

He will make the announcement next Thursday in New Hampshire, said a Romney aide.

Romney is considered the front-runner for the nomination. He failed in his bid for the party's nomination in 2008.

Romney tops his Republican rivals in many polls, but trails President Obama.

He criticized the president in Chicago on Thursday.

"I know we are only a couple blocks away from President Obama's re-election headquarters," Romney said. "The president is a fine fellow but he just doesn't have the experience in the private sector to know what it takes to get America creating jobs again."

Romney will join

Tim Pawlenty

, the former governor of Minnesota, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as those who announced they would seek the Republican nomination. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, said he wouldn't be seeking the presidency, as did Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel