SALT LAKE CITY — There are new hints that former Utah Olympic leader Mitt Romney is gearing up to announce another run for president.
Politico reported Thursday that Romney aides are telling other Republicans that he expects to launch his campaign in April.
The online news source noted Romney has already taken "another methodical step toward his 2012 run" by stepping down from the Marriott hotel chain board of directors — again.
The last time Romney left was before he ran successfully for governor of Massachusetts following the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He rejoined the board in January 2009.
Another online news source, RealClearPolitics, posted later Thursday that Romney has also hired both a pollster and a political director, citing sources connected to his 2008 presidential bid.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom had little to say.
"Gov. Romney believes the campaign got started too soon last time, and he's in no hurry to make an announcement of his plans," Fehrnstrom told the Deseret News.
When Romney ran for president in 2008, he announced on Jan. 3, 2007. By then, 10 other candidates had thrown their hats in the ring, according to a tally posted on Slate, an online magazine. So far, no candidates have come forward for 2012.
Romney has stayed in the spotlight after failing to win the GOP nomination last time, continuing to raise money for other Republican candidates and speaking out on policy issues.
"I think every indication three months ago was he's a candidate — or six months ago. He's done everything since he dropped out last time to lead up to another run," said Quin Monson, associate director of BYU's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.
Monson speculated Romney might attempt to time his announcement to the nation's April 15 income tax filing deadline. He could "take advantage of what's on everyone's mind," Monson said, especially since taxes are a big issue with tea party followers.
He said Romney may be in no hurry to formally join the race.
In 2008, Romney was expected to finish first in the first test of the presidential race, the Iowa caucus after spending much time and money in the state. But his campaign never really recovered after he lost to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee is among the potential Republican candidates this go-round, a growing list that includes the party's 2008 vice-presidential contender, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
"Romney learned last time it's tough to peak early," Monson said. "It's for him to not have the high expectations that he needs to be the frontrunner and needs to be in the lead."