Romney looks more confident in Iowa vote run-up

AMES, Iowa Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:18am EST

1 of 15. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney greets supporters at a campaign rally in Ames, Iowa December 29, 2011, ahead of the Iowa Caucus taking place on January 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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AMES, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign has a hint of a swagger about it as a good showing looks more likely next week in the Iowa caucuses, where his 2008 campaign crashed badly.

While his staff dampened expectations of winning the caucuses vote this time, large crowds gathered at Romney events in the state and his Iowa poll numbers increased again.

"It's a fair wind that blows in Iowa," Romney mused to no one in particular as he headed toward his campaign bus on Thursday morning. "It's very nice."

The Gallup daily tracking poll on Thursday showed the former Massachusetts governor retaking the lead from the fading campaign of Newt Gingrich.

That was after a CNN survey that also showed Romney in first place, despite putting relatively little time and money into campaigning in Iowa, which opens the 2012 presidential voting season on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Gingrich has struggled under a blitz of negative ads from Romney and his backers while another rival, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, has had to explain racist comments written in his name in the 1990s.

Romney's mood was ebullient as he hit the road again, traversing rural Iowa to shake hands, blast Democratic President Barack Obama's economic policies and urge voters to go to the polls on his behalf.

Supporter Greg Greco told Romney at a campaign stop in Cedar Falls: "You've got this thing. Keep going."

Romney sought to dampen that overconfidence, telling a crowd of about 400, "Sure, I want to win Iowa but everybody wants to win Iowa."

CHRISTIE FACTOR

In a push toward the finishing line, Romney's campaign is bringing popular Republican and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to Iowa for campaign events Friday. Christie is seen as a vote-winner among conservatives who are wary about Romney's moderate record as Massachusetts governor.

In 2008, Romney invested heavily in Iowa only to lose to the surprising upstart campaign of Mike Huckabee, ex-governor of Arkansas and a former Baptist preacher, who dominated in Iowa but failed to catch on elsewhere. Senator John McCain of Arizona eventually won the Republican nomination.

Romney's campaign staff has worked overtime to lower expectations this time around. A senior adviser warned that Rick Santorum, who enjoys some of the same Christian conservative support that boosted Huckabee, could overtake Romney by Tuesday.

He said that with Paul's libertarian base apparently holding steady, as few as 5,000 votes could separate the top three finishers.

"I don't expect to win Iowa," the campaign official said, noting that Romney was late to make a full push in Iowa, going on the air with television ads only three weeks ago.

"[Santorum], God love him, he's lived here," the official said, referring to the former Pennsylvania senator's intense campaigning in the state.

There is a core of about 20 percent of Iowan Republicans who describe themselves as moderate and who are likely to back Romney if they turn up at the caucus votes.

Conservatives, many of them evangelical Christians, have dominated Iowa's Republican caucuses in recent years, leaving the moderates dispirited.

Romney's senior campaign adviser in Iowa, David Kochel, said he is "always worried about turnout."

"We're not worried about other candidates; we're worried about finishing strong," Kochel said. "We're looking for a lift, we're looking for momentum and I feel good about where we're at."

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Trott)

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Comments (9)
JohnMikal wrote:
What is the price every single person is going to pay when Romney pays his supporters back should he get into office? The top three organizations that support Romney’s are Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse Group, and Morgan Stanley. How many more billions or trillions of bail outs and favorable Fed ‘loans’ will the 1% get from Romney while every single american pays more for gas, food and health care because of the inflation that results? How many more wars will Romney start to return the favors of the military industrial complex that supports him? How many thousands of lives will be lost for the profit of the war industry?

Dec 29, 2011 10:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
StevenSky wrote:
Romney seems pass the hardest time on issues like religion, foreign policy, etc in GOP. Between Romney and Newt, Romney may be an easier take because of his financial background. It is going to be extremely difficult for him to compete with Obama after 2008 crisis.

Dec 30, 2011 11:43am EST  --  Report as abuse
cp61 wrote:
Romney not going into office
The obama handlers have beat Romney once, that’s why they want to run against him again.
all they have to do is put up a picture of him standing next to a bank, and he’s done for.
when he stands there he won’t look like a customer, he’ll look like the owner.
And everyone is terrified of Newt, as a matter of fact the voters are the only ones not scared of Newt until the GOP get done talking to them then they believe their safe, yep, safely out of the game.
the rest of the field is a bunch of screwballs, with the exception of Perry, who is of course George Bush 3
I so want to vote conservative but they just won’t let me.

Dec 30, 2011 12:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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