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Swift exits, Romney joins Mass. governor's race

Jane Swift
Swift said time with her family was "non-negotiable."  


BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Jane Swift, Massachusetts' first female governor, dropped her bid for a full term Tuesday, saying she could not run a campaign and govern the state while giving her young children the attention they deserve.

Hours later, fellow Republican Mitt Romney -- a wealthy businessman and organizer of the Salt Lake City Olympics -- said he would seek the Republican nomination for governor.

Swift has been the state's acting governor since since April 2001, when Paul Cellucci stepped down to become U.S. ambassador to Canada. But she had been trailing in the polls, and her exit spares Republicans a primary battle.

"I believe that this is in the best interest of our state, as it will allow the Republican Party's best chances of holding the governor's office in November," a tearful Swift announced at an emotional news conference Tuesday.

In a recent Boston Herald poll of likely Republican voters, 75 percent said they would vote for Romney while only 12 percent said they would vote for Swift. Swift said she would support Romney's campaign.

Swift, 37, said she would focus on running the governor's office and caring for her three children, a toddler and infant twins. The rigors of a political campaign would have interfered with those goals, she said.

Time with her family "has always been non-negotiable," she said.

Speaking to reporters in his hometown of Belmont, Romney said he believes his business skills would be put to good use as governor.

"I'm going to make sure that all of the things that I have learned in management in the past 30 years is used to help average families in Massachusetts," he said as he stood in the driveway of his home with family members.

Romney, 55, a married father of five, is the founder of Bain Capital, a Boston-based multibillion-dollar holding company.

The son of the late George Romney, former Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate, he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democrat Edward Kennedy for the U.S. Senate in 1994.

Romney said he appreciated Swift's support and the work she has done for the people of Massachusetts.

Romney
Romney had a commanding lead over Swift in recent polls.  

Romney said that "out of respect" for Swift, he would make a "formal announcement" about his candidacy at a later date, but he left no doubt about his plans Tuesday.

"I'm in," he said.

Last year, Swift came under fire from critics who said she wrongly used state employees to care for her children and that she had improperly used a state helicopter for personal travel. Polls indicate she never caught on with voters.

Swift said she made the decision to withdraw from the race "within the last 24 hours" after a "candid discussion" with her husband and political advisers. She said the state's fiscal crisis demanded her full attention.

The Democratic field includes Robert Reich, the former Clinton administration labor secretary, businessman Steve Grossman, state Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, and state Senate President Thomas Birmingham.