ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
UPDATED: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney formally launched his 2012 presidential exploratory committee on Monday in a Web video, declaring that “President Obama’s policies have failed.”
“He and virtually all the people around him have never worked in the real economy,” Romney said in the message. “They just don’t know how jobs are created in the private sector. That’s where I spent my entire career.”
Romney's announcement comes just one day before the fifth anniversary of his signing of a health care law in Massachusetts that is similar to Obama administration-backed national health care reform act passed last year.
Obama has recently been heaping praise on Romney for signing the Massachusetts legislation, and Romney has been firing back, saying that a one-size-fits-all approach on health care is wrong for the county.
“He does me the great favor of saying that I was the inspiration for his plan,” Romney said at a speech in Las Vegas earlier this month. “If that’s the case, why didn’t you call me? Why didn’t you ask what was wrong? Why didn’t you ask if this was an experiment, what worked and what didn’t?”
He continued, “And I’d have told him, ‘what you’re doing, Mr. President, is going to bankrupt us.' We can’t spend more money.”
Romney did not draw a connection between the anniversary of the Massachusetts law and the unveiling of his exploratory committee on Monday. In fact, he did not mention "health care" once during his two-and-a-half minute video. However, a source close to Romney said the timing of his announcement proves “he is ready to talk about it” and “draw contrasts on present and future.”
Romney referred to his Nevada trip in his announcement video today, posted on his exploratory committee website, http://www.mittromney.com/.
"Last week, in Nevada, I walked through a neighborhood with homes vacant or in foreclosure," he said. "Unemployment there is over 13 percent. Across the nation, over 20 million Americans still can't find a job, or have given up looking."
Romney, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and lost to Sen. John McCain, goes into the 2012 presidential contest as one of the favorites.
Among Republican primary voters, polls frequently show Romney in the number one or number two spot. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week gave Romney the lead with 21 percent support, followed by Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, who each garnered 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got 11 percent and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin received 10 percent.
"It is time that we put America back on a course of greatness, with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline in Washington," Romney said. "I believe in America. I believe in the freedom and opportunity, and the principles of our constitution, that have led us to become the greatest nation in the history of the earth — and I believe that these principles will confirm American's future as well."
Romney is just the second major GOP presidential contender to form an exploratory committee. He follows in the footsteps of another former governor — Minnesota Republican Tim Pawlenty.
Romney’s public appearances over the past few months have been relatively infrequent compared to other potential candidates who have traveling extensively in critical early nominating states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. His speech is Las Vegas in early April was first major public address in nearly a month.
Romney taped Monday's message at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. after a meeting with students. "Like young people all over the country," Romney said, those students "wonder whether they'll find good jobs when they graduate."
As the announcement of Romney's exploratory committee points out, this step does not represent a formal announcement of candidacy, but rather allows Romney to begin raising funds as he moves in the direction of an official White House bid.
Brooks Payette was one of about 20 students Romney met with in New Hampshire on Monday. Payette, 29, who is a member of the Air Force National Guard and is studying political science at the university, said that he voted for Obama in 2008 and, right now, plans to do so again in 2012.
But he said his support for the president was “not written in stone.”
“A lot of things can change,” Payette said in an interview with ABC News.
“I don’t think it matters what letter you have next to your name,” he said. “Mitt — of the Republicans — he is the most commonsense and moderate. If I voted Republican, he would be the one I’d support.”
Payette, a registered Democrat, said Romney spent more than an hour with the group of students, listening to their concerns and telling them about his own career path in the business and politics. Payette recalled that Romney shared what he called his “six month rule.”
“Whatever it is you get involved in,” Payette said Romney told them, “stick with it for six months before you decide you made a mistake.”
Officials with Romney's presidential exploratory committee remained mum on whether the former Massachusetts governor weould participate in any of the coming GOP primary debates. The first is scheduled for May 5 in South Carolina.
ABC News' John Berman contributed reporting to this post.