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Romney's Tea Party Firewall in Iowa Romney's Tea Party Firewall in Iowa

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Romney's Tea Party Firewall in Iowa

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Mitt Romney speaks at 2011 CPAC.(Chet Susslin)

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney remains at the top of the polls in Iowa and many of his more tea-party friendly rivals are struggling to overcome major campaign gaffes. Eventually, those tea party activists will come around to Romney in their zeal to defeat President Obama, right?

"Ahhh no,'' said one influential tea party leader in that state, Ryan Rhodes.  "I'd think they'd take a candidate with problems over Mitt Romney. The only difference between Romney and Barack Obama is that he's run things before. I don't think he would accomplish any of our goals. He's essentially a Massachusetts liberal.''

Rhodes pointed to a new Bloomberg news poll that shows 58 percent of Iowa caucusgoers  would reject a candidate who favored an individual mandate to buy insurance, as Romney did when he was governor of Massachusetts.

"You can't lobby against crony capitalism if you've done that. You can't lobby against the individual mandate if you founded that,'' said Rhodes, who backed Michele Bachmann in the state Republican party's straw poll in August. "This election is about repudiating the health care system that's being forced on individuals.''

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