Four years ago, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney invested loads of time and energy into his Iowa ground operations and finished a respectable second in the 2008 Iowa caucuses – 9 percentage points behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. In the latest Rasmussen poll released Thursday, Romney came in second again, this time 13 points behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
A second place finish at the Iowa Caucus in January may be a winning strategy for Romney after all.
Whether or not Romney’s “second place” strategy in Iowa will work to his advantage remains to be seen. But while his colleagues are vying for the hearts and votes of the conservative evangelical, tea party crowd this weekend in Des Moines, Romney is AWOL once again. He only spent a grand total of seven days in Iowa this year.
Romney is skipping the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines on Saturday that will focus on pro-family hot-button issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage – two areas where Romney has struggled to connect with GOP voters.
So what exactly is the Romney campaign strategy for Iowa?
“We want to win wherever Gov. Romney’s name is on the ballot,” Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told The Christian Post in an email Friday.
Still, many conservative GOP voters in the Hawkeye state remain leery of Romney.
“They [tea party activists] don’t trust Mitt Romney,” Des Moines radio host Simon Conway told The Los Angeles Times. “Mitt Romney can be tea party one minute, and the next minute introduce ‘Romney Care,’” the unpopular healthcare plan he advocated for while governor of Massachusetts.
What the Romney campaign is most likely betting on is that if he secures the nomination, then most Republicans will fall in line and support the party nominee.
Jeff Havenner, a retiree from Bettendorf, is leaning toward Perry but would support whoever the GOP nominee is, including Romney.
“Absolutely, without hesitation,” Havenner told The Los Angeles Times. “Anyone who gets the [GOP] nomination gets my vote.”
But not all conservative voters share Havenner’s view. Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation is personally supporting Gingrich, and believes that if Romney gets the nomination, some conservatives may just sit out the presidential election.
“If Romney doesn’t get the GOP nomination it may save the Republican party. If he does win the nomination it could splinter the party,” Phillips told The Christian Post. “Some people believe we may be better off with a second Obama term than having Romney in the White House.”
Romney is spending Friday in New Hampshire and is attending the Union Leader Santa Fund luncheon in Manchester.