Romney finished in fifth place in a straw poll of participants here, behind a second-place Huntsman, who is set to join the GOP field on Tuesday.
Such pining for new candidates already has resulted in disappointment.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour both decided to skip the race. Donald Trump flirted early and then left.
Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the GOP's 2008 vice presidential pick, overshadowed former Romney's presidential announcement in New Hampshire with an East Coast bus tour that took her to his home base of Boston and then across the border into the state the hosts the first nominating primary.
She hasn't said what she will do.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign troubles have helped Perry. Gingrich's senior aides resigned en masse in disagreements with the candidate. Many of Gingrich's top aides are alumni of Perry campaigns and could return to Texas should Perry decide to run.
Indications were that he was leaning that way.
Gingrich's former political director was laying the groundwork for Perry in Iowa. Perry planned a national day of prayer in Houston, a move seen by GOP insiders as a play to evangelicals who are an important part of the GOP base, particularly in Iowa. Yet he is starting late.
Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina traditionally are won through frequent visits and courting the local officials who deliver supporters, block by block. Perry has not been to Iowa since the 2008 campaign when he campaigned in the state for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
He could make up for his tardiness with toughness: "That mix of arrogance and audacity that guides the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American."
Bakst reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
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