Mitt Romney said Thursday he planned to formally join the GOP race for president during an appearance next week in New Hampshire, a state that is central to his White House strategy.

"Making it official next week at the Scamman Farm in New Hampshire," Romney wrote on his Facebook page.

The former Massachusetts governor has been plotting a comeback since losing the GOP presidential nomination to Sen. John McCain in 2008. His advisers see New Hampshire as the launching pad for a presidential bid and they tentatively are watching Iowa, the early GOP caucus where Romney was to visit Friday for the first time this year.

Advisers said he would formally announce his candidacy during a noon barbecue at a Stratham, N.H., farm that is a must-visit stop for GOP contenders.

Romney already has formed a presidential exploratory committee, has lined up political support and collected vast sums of cash. One fundraising day alone yielded more than $10 million, so next weeks' announcement is only a formality.

Romney's full-fledged campaign has been a near certainty for months. He has traveled across the country to meet in private with donors and sound out their support. His headquarters in Boston has been adding staff.

He has learned lessons from the 2008 loss and has severely limited his public appearances. Instead of marathon days of campaigning, he so far has favored smaller events, opinion pieces in newspapers and speeches to friendly audiences.

Romney's public career began in 1999, when the business executive was recruited to take over the 2002 Winter Olympics after scandal and financial deficits threatened the Salt Lake City games.

In 2003, he became governor of Massachusetts after a campaign in which he cast himself as a moderate on social issues such as abortion, gay rights and stem cell research. He had sounded many of the same themes during an unsuccessful 1994 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Edward M. Kennedy.

He chose not to seek a second term as governor and instead turned his sights on the White House.