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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made a surprise stop Thursday at the Utah Capitol, where he met with lawmakers, Gov. Gary Herbert and supporters as he edges closer to officially jumping into the 2012 presidential race.
Romney, accompanied by his wife, Ann, was in town to see his 16th grandchild, and for the 30 minutes he was in a closed-door event with state lawmakers and Herbert, he talked about his time as the organizer of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Olympics have been a big part of his primary pedigree and after the private event, he said the Games were "the greatest ever."
"We were here almost 10 years ago and those were dark days when the Olympics were in trouble, and the people of Utah came together in a way that I don't think the world will ever forget," he said. "This is a place of great passion and energy and the volunteers here and the spectators from Utah made the Games the greatest ever."
But he didn't make an official announcement though Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah and a Romney booster, said that "96 percent of the people in line waiting to shake his hand asked him to run."
Jowers said he thought the candidates including Romney would make their official announcements in March or April.
Ann Romney simply said: "He'd make a great president."
Romney, who is LDS, won 11 state primaries or caucuses and collected $107 million in 2008 before backing out after a disappointing finish in the Super Tuesday primaries. Sen. John McCain was the eventual GOP nominee.
In the most recent Public Policy Polling results going into the 2012 race, Romney trails another 2008 contender, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by 3 percentage points. Huckabee is at 20, Romney is at 17 and Sarah Palin, 15.
The poll, released Tuesday, also showed Huckabee's lead shrink from a 10 point advantage in January.