Should Mitt Romney go big in Iowa?
November 7th, 2011
11:52 AM ET
11 years ago

Should Mitt Romney go big in Iowa?

(CNN) - As Mitt Romney returns to Iowa, the question of whether he'll pick up the pace on the campaign trail in the state that kicks off the presidential primary and caucus calendar remains unanswered.

The former Massachusetts governor, who's making his second bid for the Republican presidential nomination, has two scheduled events in the Hawkeye State on Monday: He tours a manufacturing plant in Dubuque and a water company in Davenport.

The brief swing through eastern Iowa comes just two weeks after Romney greeted voters in the western part of the state. But overall, Romney spent only five days campaigning in Iowa this year, which pales with the number of stops he's made in the first in the nation primary state of New Hampshire, which votes second after the Iowa caucuses.

"Governor Romney will be in Iowa enough to show he's the best candidate to beat President Obama on jobs and the economy," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told CNN. "We've been here before and we've always said we would be back. We want to win wherever Governor Romney's name is on the ballot."

The candidate himself says the same thing. Asked by voters recently in Sioux City if he intends to pick up the pace, Romney said "I will be here again and again, campaigning here. I want to get the support of the good people in Iowa. I'd love to win in Iowa. Any of us would. And so I'll campaign here. I intend to campaign in, well, in all the early states at least, and maybe all the states at some point."

But last week Romney skipped two high-profile events in Iowa that were attended by most of the other major candidates.

Four years ago Romney went big in Iowa, spending a lot of time and money there. But the strategy backfired when one-time longshot Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, won the January 2008 caucuses.

Wounded in Iowa, Romney was then defeated by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the eventual nominee, one week later in New Hampshire.

Even though he's only made cameo appearances so far in Iowa, Romney is tied with businessman and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain for the top spot in the two most recent polls of Hawkeye State Republicans. Romey was at 24% in a CNN/Time/ORC International poll conducted in late October, holding a 3-point margin over Cain, and he was at 23% in a Des Moines Register survey also conducted late last month, with Cain at 22%.

Some strategists say Romney doesn't need to win Iowa, considering that he's been the overwhelming front-runner in New Hampshire in just about every poll conducted over the past year. And some in Iowa agree.

"I don't think he has to win here. A second, third place, I think, would be fine for him. He does have a solid infrastructure here in people that support him," said Becky Beach, an Iowa GOP activist who's undecided on CNN's "John King, USA" last week.

But someone who knows the Romney campaign quite well says Romney's problem is not just tactical but is strategic, and the former Massachusetts governor shouldn't make strategic decisions based on tactical considerations.

"His campaign to date has the passion of a grocery list," said GOP stategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos, who was a top media adviser in Romney's 2008 bid but is not taking sides this cycle. "Before he decides whether or not to go into Iowa, he needs to turn his campaign into something bigger: a cause."

"If he goes into Iowa as the establishment candidate with no more than a list of bullet points for the economy, he will rally more support against than for him, and he will lose the state and the nomination," adds Castellanos, who was also a top media adviser to the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. "Romney's campaign caught fire four years ago when he turned it into a crusade to "change Washington". "If he can do that again, he should go into Iowa, but if not, he should retreat to New Hampshire and batten down the hatches."

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Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Mitt Romney
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    He should go big with one of his many positions on the same issue. Flipping and flopping has always been big in Iowa.

    November 7, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. Indy

    Yes he shpuld go big in Iowa, he might as well go all out and spend like GW because he will soon be looking for a job after the election and might as well blow all the dough he can in his sixth year of running for POTUS.

    November 7, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. FM

    No one can change character overnight. He is known he changes like chameleon. To convince people that he is a different person, won't be an easy task.

    November 7, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Nhan

    People opposed to this don't seem to realize that it is for children of illegal immigrants – people who came here with their parents. Their parents broke the law. They didn't have a choice. What were they supposed to do? Say "Hey mom and dad. I'm not coming with you." Most of them know no other home than the U.S. I agree that the parents should get no special treatment, but the kids don't deserve to be punished if they've been following the law since they've been here.

    November 7, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Amy

    Romney works well with Democrats and he spent more than 20 years in the private sector. He also did a great job as Chief Executive of the American Olympics in 2002. He'd be a great president – but he won't win the Republican nomination. The Tea Party hates wealthy moderates. Sorry Romney.

    November 7, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. AlaskaPalin

    Liberals know obama will lose. When one listens to them they are saying, if we cannot have barrack then give us Myth Romney. Why- because Myth romney is the BAIN to social conservatism. Myth and barrack are both liberals on the social issues. This is an election for the Gop taking but if Myth Romney heads the ticket he will not rise above 35 percent of the popular vote. Myth romney is a sure win for Barrack Obama and liberals one way or the other.

    November 7, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Does Iowa have any companies to break up, lay off American workers and ship American jobs overseas?

    If not, then Mittens wouldn't know what to do with himself, because that's his area of greatest accomplishment.

    November 7, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Larry L

    He has a tough time deciding when to "be crazy" and when to "be rational". I suspect the "Rational Mitt" will emerge in the blue states and "Crazy Mitt" will show up in the red. This process requires a unsophisticated voting population with no ability to retain information for more than a few minutes... maybe he's in luck!

    November 7, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |