With his prospects improving in Iowa, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is signaling renewed interest in the first-caucus state, which would mark a change from his campaign’s New Hampshire-centric strategy.
Romney plans to visit western Iowa next week, his first swing through the state since August. Until recently, the former Massachusetts governor had expressed little interest in competing in Iowa, which traditionally holds the first caucus of the primary season. The event is dominated by social and religious conservatives who have been wary of some of the moderate positions Romney took as governor and of his Mormon religion.
As a candidate for president four years ago, Romney spent significant resources in Iowa only to lose to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. This time, his strategy for the early primary states has been to focus intensely on New Hampshire’s more moderate and independent primary voters.
That began to change this month, after the stumbles of candidates thought to have a better shot at winning the Iowa caucus -- most notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
Recent polls have showed Romney with a narrow lead in Iowa, and the campaign sent his wife, Ann Romney, on a three-day visit last week. It also has maintained staff and field organizers in the state.
The candidate himself plans to visit Iowa on Oct. 20 after he concludes a Western swing to Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Las Vegas.
Asked whether Romney hopes to win the GOP caucus in Iowa, a senior advisor said, “We’d like to win wherever our name is on the ballot, of course.”
This article appears in the October 12, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.