At noon Thursday, all that will will change however. Romney will venture to Doug and Stella Scamman's Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, NH -- well-trod Republican ground in New Hampshire -- to shed all the pretense and finally become a candidate.
Also, his campaign said Tuesday, he'll host a chili cookout.
Some details on the location, from the Boston Herald:
"It's an honor," said Scamman, a longtime Republican state legislator who served two terms as New Hampshire's House speaker, and spent a few years as the state's budget director. With land that stretches down to the Exeter River, "We have a great place to have big events, and it has very easy access," he said. ... Stella, reminisced about all the other political fund-raisers and receptions they've graciously hosted on their sprawling farm.
"Both President Bushes made campaign stops here," she said, "and so did Senators Bob Dole and Warren Rudman."
Polls show Romney is the national frontrunner for the top slot on the 2012 Republican ticket at the moment. Nowhere is his first place position more clear than in New Hampshire, where he's focused his attention for many, many months. A WMUR/CNN poll released last week showed Romney with a huge lead among likely Republican primary voters.
But dragging Romney down (in the eyes of political observers, anyway) is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm for Romney among the tea party set. The conservative wing of the GOP sees Romney as something of a sellout, having championed a universal health care scheme in Massachusetts that looks a lot like the one President Obama signed last year. Romney has argued his plan is nothing like Obama's, and has pledged to repeal the health care law as one of his first acts as president.
How all that shakes out could determine whether this Thursday at noon is the start of something big for Romney or is another expensive dash to close-but-not-enough, like his bid in 2008.