Cedar Falls, Iowa (CNN) - As another Republican front-runner fell in the polls in Iowa, steady-as-he-goes GOP candidate Mitt Romney appeared to see his moment.
The man who has watched a string of opponents alternately vault to the lead in Iowa was greeted by a host of good news when he arrived in the state Tuesday.
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At the first three stops on his Iowa bus tour, capacity crowds prompted the campaign to open overflow rooms. By Thursday the campaign had re-jiggered its expectations and set up a tent outside Romney's morning stop at a diner, where about 40 voters who could not squeeze into the cafe waited to see the candidate.
A campaign aide said he had expected Romney's support to grow in the state as undecided voters began to make their final decisions, but said the campaign had been surprised by the size of the turnout at events.
In a sign of increased confidence, an aide confirmed Romney will spend caucus night in Des Moines - instead of in Romney's firewall state of New Hampshire, where the campaign could cushion the blow of a poor Iowa showing.
Romney has long said he would like to win Iowa, but has also said he does not expect to win every state. He went a step further Wednesday in acknowledging the momentum he felt in the Hawkeye State.
"The numbers that are showing up are a lot more than we'd expected. And their level of excitement and enthusiasm and their willingness to caucus on my behalf is encouraging," he told members of the media in Clinton. "So the response I'm getting is really quite heartening."
A CNN/Time/ORC poll released Wednesday showed Romney at the head of the pack with days to go before caucus day.
But Romney's confidence in Iowan voters has been misplaced before, to disastrous results for his 2008 presidential effort. Four years ago, Romney's campaign poured millions into its Iowa effort only to finish a disappointing second.
Battered by the loss, Romney's campaign limped on to New Hampshire, where he lost to Sen. John McCain.
This time, political analysts have said even a second-place finish could boost Romney in the GOP primary race, if fiscal iconoclast Ron Paul were to win Iowa.
Paul has built a strong organizational base and a wellspring of support in Iowa, but has failed to gain the establishment support some say is necessary to win the GOP nomination.
But asked Wednesday whether finishing second after Paul in Iowa could still be a win, Romney did not hesitate.
"Uh, no," he said.