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GOP Race Is Still Unsettled In Final Sprint To Iowa Caucus

December 27, 2011 by staff 

GOP Race Is Still Unsettled In Final Sprint To Iowa CaucusGOP Race Is Still Unsettled In Final Sprint To Iowa Caucus, Mitt Romney and his allies are making an assertive final push this week to increase his chances of a strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, the outcome of which could help determine the length of the Republican presidential nominating battle.

Any questions about whether Romney is playing to win in Iowa will be dispelled during the closing days of campaigning here. He introduced a new television commercial Monday, promoting his economic vision and his family values — a message that is fortified by a hard-hitting punch from a well-financed outside group attacking two of his rivals.

“It is a moral imperative for America to stop spending more money than we take in,” Romney says in the ad, which will be running when he arrives in Iowa on Tuesday for a bus tour and an orchestrated blitz of appearances by surrogates leading up to the caucuses Jan. 3.

While the future of Romney’s candidacy does not depend on an Iowa victory, his advisers believe that his prospects are better than they once expected. The factors include arguments that he would be his party’s strongest candidate against President Barack Obama; divisions among social conservatives about which candidate to support; and the challenges facing Newt Gingrich and his still bare-bones campaign organization, highlighted by his failure last week to qualify for the Virginia GOP primary ballot.

The strength of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who has built a dedicated band of supporters, and the rising candidacy here of Rick Santorum are among the ingredients fueling a volatile final week before the Iowa caucuses kick off the first round of voting. The race could be susceptible to unforeseen turns and missteps, but a consensus is gathering among top Republicans that the advantages for Romney are growing.

“If the evangelical vote is splintered and Ron Paul’s people aren’t going anywhere, Mitt Romney could end up winning the Iowa caucuses as a result,” said Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor who defeated Romney here in the 2008 caucuses. “It would not put me on the floor if that happened.”

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