Iowa governor says Romney making 'big mistake'
November 16th, 2011
02:47 PM ET
10 years ago

Iowa governor says Romney making 'big mistake'

(CNN) - Iowa's Republican governor says he thinks Mitt Romney's making a mistake by not campaigning more in the state that kicks off the presidential caucus and primary calendar, but Romney's campaign says the candidate will be back in the Hawkeye State next week and will debate there next month.

"I think he's making a big mistake... by not coming here and spending more time," Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday at an energy forum in Des Moines sponsored by POLITICO. "I mean Romney is dropping in the polls and I think he thinks that he wants to keep down expectations, you know. Well, his expectations may get really bad if he doesn't get a little more serious."

The five-term governor also claimed that Romney could lose his bid for the GOP nomination if he doesn't perform well in Iowa's January 3 caucuses.

"I know Romney is putting his focus in New Hampshire, but if he gets clobbered here - if he comes in not in the top three but, say, fourth or fifth - I think that really damages his campaign on the national (level)," added Branstad.

While Romney returns to campaign in Iowa next week, he's only spent six days the state 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.

Earlier this month Romney skipped two major events in Iowa that were attended by most of the other GOP White House hopefuls. This Saturday he's not expected to attend a presidential forum being put on by the Family Leader, an influential social conservative group in Iowa. Rival candidates Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann are scheduled to attend the event.

"Gov. Branstad is a great governor and a strong advocate for Iowa. We look forward to campaigning in Iowa next week and after, debating in the state and competing in the Iowa caucuses," says David Kochel, Romney's senior adviser in Iowa.

As of now, three debates are scheduled in Iowa in December.

Branstad also directed some tough talk towards Romney's headquarters.

"I think that the advisers in Boston don't get it, they're too far away from the reality," Branstad said. "They have that East Coast mentality. That was the same deal with (former New York Mayor) Rudy Giuliani. At this point four years ago, he was the the time it got to Florida he was out of it."

Branstad told POLITICO that he has shared his feelings with Romney and his campaign.

The campaign says it wants 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, Iowa, 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."

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 basically all tied up with businessman and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the top spot among Hawkeye State Republicans, according to a Bloomberg News poll released Tuesday.

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," Becky Beach, an Iowa GOP activist who's undecided, told CNN's John King earlier this month.

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN

Also see:

Gingrich touts strategy chops in lobbyist defense

Citizenship check causes controversy at Perry event

Romney remains overwhelming favorite in New Hampshire

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Mitt Romney • Terry Branstad
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Mark Curran

    Sorry, the truth is, Iowa voters are spoiled brats. They think the candidates have to do everything but flush their toilets for them.

    And now we find that candidates who spend little or no time there, often do BETTER, which is a surprise.

    Why should Romney spend a lot of time there? The GOP primary voters in Iowa are notorious for chosing goofy candidates- Pat Robertson, Pat Buchannan, and Mike Huckabee, goofy preachers or lyinig rabid bigots who blame Churchill and defend Hitler (Pat Buchannan).

    If Romney spends a lot of time there, he doesn't make Iowa GOP voters any smarter. He will come in 3rd or 4th, and look WORSE if he campaigned there much.

    November 16, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. rdarkchild

    Romney knows he will have to go bat sh......... crazy to the right to win Iowa.
    And take positions that will be hard to explain in the general election.
    Better to lose Iowa than the entire election.

    November 16, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Robert

    Don't do it Mittens!!! They chose Bachmann out there. They're nuts, just keep going the way you have been!!!

    November 16, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    Gov. Branstad – YOU can have him. We here in California hope the stiff STAYS AS FAR AWAY as possible.

    November 16, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. Beantown Bully

    Romney has not been able to get above 25% support from the GOP to get the nomination. Faced with this reality this man thinks he should forgo Iowa, in lue of NH. Then what????? I really think he is in for a huge surprise come the convention. Nobody thought John McCain would get the nomination. But, he did and got smoked, as will the next GOP candidate
    Obama/Biden/ Warren 2012!!!!

    November 16, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Lost in Texas FOREVER AND EVER

    Didn't Michelle Bachmann come in first last time in an Iowa straw poll? Perhaps Mitt is smarter than they want to give him credit for.

    November 16, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    Ya know what? I would like to see every single candidate, boycott Iowa, in the next election season, from BOTH political parties. Iowa needs to be put in its place......pure and simple.

    November 16, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |

    Romney knows that the fix is in and that the wingnuts will stuff him down the teabaggers' throats. He plans to ride the wingnut Romney can beat Obama lie all the way to defeat.

    November 16, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  9. MTATL67

    "could lose his bid for the GOP nomination if he doesn't perform well in Iowa's" – My, my aren't we a bit full of ourselves.

    November 16, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. unsub

    romney or huntsman is all u got!

    November 16, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  11. tykl

    Wow, how important does Governor Branstad think he is? What does he tell the other governors when the candidates campaign more in his state and not theirs (as he wants it)? And shouldn't people be voting for the best candidate and not the person who spent most time in their state (what fraction of Iowans see the candidates when they come to the state as compared to the fraction of Iowans who see the candidates on TV?).

    November 16, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Presidential politics is all about the maps. Media reports about Romney campaign strategy seem to paint a picture of a campaign that does not know the significant difference between the electoral map and the primary maps. Each phase requires a different strategy.

    The electoral map allows you to focus on the big ticket states. The primary map is more subtle because it forces you to focus on the smaller states, which is exactly what it is designed to do. Camp Romney doesn't seem to be overly concerned about the mediium to moderate sized states.

    November 16, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    Gov. Branstad, none of them are serious. Come to grips with that now, and just change the dates to 2016, when the GOP will hopefully be on the path back to sanity and reality.

    November 16, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. Joe

    Way to go Romney....Iowa is full of anti-Mormons....No matter what you do those Pharyses and Saducees (Babtists and Evangelicals) hate Mormons more than they hate Obama....believe me I lived there.

    November 16, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The entire group of eight candidates is a big mistake.

    November 16, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If Karl Rove had decided that it is going to be Romney, no state can change that.

    November 16, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. GoodGuyGary

    Stupid Iowa people, how many days Romney spent in your state last time and he got no love from you. And now, you want the attention from who you dumped?

    November 16, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. VA VERY Ex Republican

    hey, let him pay the price BOTH Clinton and McCain paid. he is an idiot anyway. this should tell not only the Republicans, but the whole nation how unfit the GOP candidates are. they did not learn from the last elections mistakes and they keep doing it. let them. I hope we never see a Republican President or elected official ever again.

    November 16, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Robert Fallin

    The governor misspoke. Romney is not making a "big mistake," Romney IS a "big mistake".

    November 16, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. W.G.

    All of the republican candidates are just gas in the wind . If this is the best the republicans can offer
    then they are in a sad state of affaires .

    November 16, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. Ed DFWTX

    I think Mitt so all the crazies like Perry, Bachmann, Newt and Santorum running around the state and he didn't want to be associated with those radical right wing nutjobs.

    November 16, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Governor Braindead and Mitt the Flipwit. If only those were mug shots.

    November 16, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. WhereIsPalin

    Hey Branstad.........govern Iowa........don't give advice to presidential candidates.

    November 16, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Drew

    Mitt knows he doesn't play well in the corn belt. He will do the minimum and keep his 25% share and he knows it. On another note, looking at his face I am reminded of Dracula check out the bags under his eyes. He just looks like another pandering sleazeball Republican wannabe to me.

    November 16, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Drew

    I love the idea that the Republicans are thrashing each other and in the process they are making inflammatory statements, misquoting facts and badmouthing each other. Obama is smart to stay out for now but when the time comes oh boy has he got some ammo. I love it!!!

    November 16, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |