Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the longest of the long-shot candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination, today officially changed his name to Mitt Romney because "it's such a fabulous name I just had to have it."
"I am and will always be the same old Duncan Hunter the American people have never known," the new Romney said, "even though I have been a member of Congress for 26 years, was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee for four, and live in one of the most populous counties in the most populous state in the nation. If they happen to get to know me a little bit now because my new name sounds and will be spelled on the Republican primary ballot exactly like the name of some guy from Massachusetts, well, that's just an added benefit for them and me, I guess."
Hunter's chosen name also belongs to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is in second place in national polling for the GOP presidential nomination, but leads in the bellwether states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Hunter dismissed the similarity as mere coincidence.
"Really? Well, I'll be a monkey's aunt Petunia!" congressman Romney said. "It's such an unusual name, what are the odds that someone else -- and a leading Republican presidential candidate at that -- would have it, too? I'll have to be sure to say hi to him next time I'm in New Hampshire. My finance director tells me we might have enough frequent flier miles saved up to be able to afford a ticket to New Hampshire sometime before the primary. I'm sure this other Romney guy will probably be there, since he lives in Massachusetts instead of all the way across the country in California, where I live, which is about as far away from Iowa and New Hampshire as one can get and still live on the mainland, I might add. But I'm not bitter."
Congressman Romney, campaigning as Duncan Hunter, has consistently polled at about 1 percent, which is within the margin of error of -3 percent in most polls, his opponents might point out, were they to notice him.
Gov. Romney, by contrast, leads by around eight points in Iowa and 16 in New Hampshire, while placing a respectable second or third, behind the better-known Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, in national polls.
Gov. Romney's campaign refused to comment, pending consultation with attorneys.
This is the second time Rep. Romney has changed his name. In a dispute with his sign printer over an unpaid bill, this summer he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol -- an upside down peace sign circled by a barbed wire "border fence." But he had to drop the symbol after discovering that it had already been copyrighted by Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
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