SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney hasn't announced he's running for president in 2012, but students across the country are already organizing to get him into the White House.
College students from the Bay Area to the deep South to Provo have formed the group "Students for Mitt Romney."
"The message that we want to send is not to get him to run — because we feel like he'll make that decision on his own — but to let America know that he is the choice of college students," Utah chairman Jordan Hess said Friday.
Hess, a Brigham Young University student from Florida now serving as a legislative intern at the Utah Capitol, said the group has a contingent of roughly 100 students in this state.
Founded by Vanderbilt student Garrett Sweitzer a little over a month ago, Students for Mitt Romney debuted at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and now has people on 33 campuses in 19 states. Schools include Yale, Georgetown, the University of California-Berkeley and Stanford.
The word is being spread face-to-face, and via social networking — including on Facebook. The hope is to develop a base of students that will support Romney if he runs for president.
"A lot of recent college grads are unemployed, can't find jobs — the economy is bad," Hess said. "We feel that Mitt Romney is the one to turn it around."
The economy certainly appears to be a driver for the students. Romney said in February at CPAC the country needs another president to right the economic ship.
"I want a job when I graduate college and I think that Mitt Romney has the ideas, the motivation and the experience to help me get that job," Hess said.
Romney may need the students' help, if they can successfully mobilize their peers at the polls next year.
The most recent survey from the Wall Street Journal and NBC this week shows Romney's old rival, Mike Huckabee, is currently the favorite choice among likely GOP primary voters by 4 percentage points. Romney trails, 25 percent to 21 percent, though he leads Huckabee as the second-favorite choice, 16 percent to 13 percent.
Romney also slipped in the poll in a hypothetical head-to-head race against President Obama. In December, he trailed by 7 percentage points. Obama now leads, 49 percent to 40 percent.
"It really is our generation that needs to wake up and realize what's going on and what direction we want to head in," Hess said.