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For Romney, Late Expectations For Romney, Late Expectations

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Campaign 2012

For Romney, Late Expectations

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, enter a caucus day rally at the Temple for Performing Arts, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa voters logging onto the Des Moines Register website this morning were confronted with a headline that seemed improbable mere months ago: "Mitt Romney: 'We're going to win this thing'"

It's quite the ironic twist of fate that a candidate whose campaign worked obsessively in recent months to lower expectations in Iowa -- and succeeded in doing so -- would awake on caucus day to a Joe Namath-esque prediction in the state's largest newspaper.

Romney's approach to Iowa this cycle has, in many ways, redefined the political art of "expectation setting." After investing unrivaled time and resources into winning Iowa in 2008 -- only to suffer a crippling loss to Mike Huckabee -- the Romney campaign was determined to proceed with caution the second time around. From the outset, they worked feverishly to reduce Romney's footprint in Iowa, knowing another loss there could hurt Romney only if it appeared he truly was invested in winning the state.

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