BELLEVUE, Iowa (CNN) – Mitt Romney sounded increasingly upbeat Monday heading into the final days before the Iowa caucuses, telling a group of reporters here: "I think I'm going to win."
"I'm not going to forecast that necessarily," he said. "But I think I'm going to win, and that would be enormously powerful for my campaign. I'm confident I'll get either the gold or the silver, but at this stage I'm feeling pretty good."
Romney - who also told reporters that any finish in the top three would be acceptable - has refused to acknowledge a series of fresh criticisms levied at him by his main rival in Iowa, Mike Huckabee, while speaking to audiences in recent days.
Instead he has stuck firmly to a stump speech emphasizing his optimism about the future and urging supporters to "bring a friend or two" to caucus.
"Get in there and do your thing," he said in Bellevue, one of six campaign stops scheduled for the day across eastern Iowa. "The whole nation is watching Iowa … I can't wait for Thursday night. I have been working for this for a long, long time."
His campaign has also added a new, positive ad to the TV rotation, featuring Romney looking into the camera and re-emphasizing his resume as a problem-solver.
The former Massachusetts governor said the "closing ad" was part of a final push where he will emphasize his own message instead of blasting Huckabee, which his campaign has been doing steadily for the last month.
"This is a time to talk about my message," Romney said, asked by CNN why he has refused to mention Huckabee on the trail in recent days. "My closing ad and my closing speeches are about the positive vision I have for my campaign."
Still, while Romney avoids mentioning Huckabee in front of crowds, he remains eager to criticize the former Arkansas governor when speaking to the press.
He opened a session with reporters here by saying that as president, he would impose strict guidelines regulating pardons and commutations for convicted criminals, which he did as governor.
The comments were clearly aimed as a contrast to Huckabee's record on the issue, which Romney said will hurt Huckabee with voters, along with illegal immigration and taxes.