Romney to visit Iowa next week but skip forum

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 14, 2011 1:02pm EST

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney delivers a speech at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney delivers a speech at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to skip a forum of social conservatives in Iowa this weekend but will campaign in the state next week, his campaign said on Monday.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is high in the polls in Iowa, which holds the first U.S. nominating contest on January 3.

But he has held back from mounting a huge campaign there because he spent millions on the state in 2008 but lost to Mike Huckabee.

The state's large contingent of social conservatives have been slow to embrace Romney over what they consider moderate stances on some social issues.

The forum, sponsored by a leading Iowa social conservative, Bob Vander Plaats, is to be held on Saturday in Des Moines and a half a dozen presidential candidates are expected to attend.

Vander Plaats has been urging Romney to attend his forum.

Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said that in addition to a visit to Iowa next week, Romney will participate in Huckabee's televised debate on December 3. Others visits are planned, she said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Philip Barbara)

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