Romney's Road: 452 Days, 9 competitors and 37 States

VIDEO: Fmr. Massachusetts Governor mounts second campaign for the White House in 2012.

With tropical storm Isaac lashing the Tampa Bay area and delaying the start of the GOP Convention, Mitt Romney had to wait one extra day to become the official Republican presidential nominee.

But after five years of waiting, what is one more day?

Romney's trek to the nomination has spanned two campaign cycles, outlasted 15 Republican opponents and cost donors $270 million.

Here's a look at Romney's epic journey to today, when he will be officially voted in as the GOP nominee.

The Failure of 2008

The second time is the charm for Mitt Romney in securing the GOP presidential nomination. But without his 2008 attempt, the former Massachusetts governor would have had an even steeper hill to climb to this year's nomination.

In the summer of 2007, five months after Romney first declared his candidacy in 2008, more than half of the country's likely voters had either never heard of him or had no opinion on him, according to a Newsweek poll at the time.

But a year of criss-crossing the country in pursuit of the Republican nod upped his national profile and his well-timed exit from the race, early enough to show party unity stave off massive defeats on Super Tuesday, left the door open for him to run again. Romney won nine states before ending his bid in February 2009.

The Hay Bale Announcement

Amid hay bales and a jumbo American flag Mitt Romney officially announced his bid for the White House on June 3, 2011. Romney declared that "Obama has failed America" and that if elected, his "No. 1 job will be to see that America once again is No. 1 in job creation."

When Romney entered the race, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty were already in the fight. Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum jumped into the fray within a month of Romney's announcement.

Secret Service Steps It Up

Long before he became the indisputable frontrunner in the Republican primary, Romney began traveling like one.

Shortly after winning the Florida primary on January 31, Romney became the second candidate of the primary to get Secret Service protection, after Herman Cain got protection for about a month prior to ending his bid in December.

Romney's wife, Ann, was given her own Secret Service detail on Friday, just days before her husband is set to be officially nominated at the Republican National Convention this week.

Republican Stars Start Aligning

Before Republican voters aligned behind Romney, the party's big hitters put their power behind the former Massachusetts governor.

First it was New Jersey's firebrand Gov. Chris Christie, then Romney's 2008 rival and former GOP presidential nominee John McCain and finally former Republican presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

When Romney strolls into the nominating convention this week, he brings with him an extensive list of official endorsers as he aims to drum up enthusiasm within the Republican Party.

The Competition Drops

While the five months leading up to the first-in-the-nation were a revolving door of frontrunners, after the voting began in January, the crowded field of GOP competitors quickly thinned out.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's short-lived GOP bid ended after a poor showing at the Ames Straw Poll in August. A sexual harassment scandal sent Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain packing in December. And a near last-place finish in her birth state of Iowa marked the end for Rep. Michele Bachmann in January.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's third-place finish in New Hampshire, where he had devoted nearly all of his campaign efforts, spelled disaster for his candidacy in January.

And Texas Gov. Rick Perry saw "no viable path forward" after finishing dead last in South Carolina.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum held on into the spring, but ended his bid in April as his momentum waned and his daughter's health faltered. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went on a 17-state losing streak before calling it quits in May.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul has still not officially ended his candidacy, although the three-time presidential candidate stopped actively campaigning in May.

The Race to 1,144

In the crowded GOP primary, there was a new frontrunner virtually every month from August through March. And when the voting began in January, the first three states to vote split between Santorum, Romney and Gingrich.

After a big win in Florida at the end of January, Romney stumbled and lost the first three contests in February. In the 10-state voting extravaganza of Super Tuesday, Romney scored his first significant delegate lead, capturing 213 delegates and building a lead of more than 200 delegates over his closest rival, Santorum.

While Santorum snagged a handful of the subsequent states, his momentum waned and he ended his candidacy in April, paving the way for Romney's victory.

It took another month and a half, and a win in Texas, for Romney to pass the 1,144 delegate threshold needed to secure the GOP nomination.

Picking Paul Ryan

By the time the primaries ended in June, Romney had secured enough delegates to win the nomination, scored support from his party's elite and gained the security detail and swarming crowds of a general election nominee.

The only piece of the puzzle missing was a running mate. Enter Paul Ryan, a young conservative star in the Republican-controlled House, the author of the GOP's sweeping budget reforms and the pop of popularity Romney needed to gin up enthusiasm leading into the general election.

Romney made the highly-coveted (and super secretive) announcement on a Saturday morning just two weeks before the Republican National Convention.

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