The Fix: Mitt Romney, Iowa

The secret of Mitt Romney’s Iowa success? Electability.

The secret of Mitt Romney’s Iowa success? Electability.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney ’s rise to the top of the polls in Iowa is built almost exclusively on a single word: electability.

Look inside the Des Moines Register poll, which showed Romney leading the way with 24 percent of the vote, and it’s clear that the former Massachusetts governor’s “head” appeal (we need to nominate someone who can beat President Obama next fall) is winning out over the doubts many voters in the state still have about his conservative bona fides and ability to relate to average Iowans.

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Mitt Romney tries to make history in Iowa and New Hampshire

Mitt Romney tries to make history in Iowa and New Hampshire

If former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney can pull off back-to-back wins in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary in the next 12 days, he will not only take a major step toward winning the Republican presidential nomination, but he’ll also write his name into the history books.

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll out Wednesday showed Romney leading Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) in Iowa by a slim margin. The poll means Romney is now polling as the frontrunner in both of the two earliest states (he led Paul by 27 points in New Hampshire).

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Mitt Romney and the Iowa expectations game

Mitt Romney and the Iowa expectations game

Mitt Romney begins a three-day tour through Iowa today, a trip sure to re-start the conversation about where the former Massachusetts governor will finish in the first-in-the-nation caucuses in a week’s time.

The Romney team — as they have done throughout this presidential contest — are downplaying his Iowa expectations, insisting that, unlike several of his main rivals, he doesn’t need to win the state and isn’t expected to do so.

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Dole says Romney campaign didn’t know about VP chat with Branstad

Former senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole said Tuesday that Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign had no knowledge of his phone call to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) in which Dole suggested he would recommend Branstad as a vice presidential pick.

Branstad talked about their conversation at a press conference Monday, and given Dole’s endorsement of Romney over the weekend, some have suggested it was a ploy by the Romney campaign to get a leg up in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. The Iowa caucuses are on Jan. 3.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad speaks to legislative reporters during a meeting organized by The Associated Press earlier this month at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Dole said it was nothing of the sort.

“Let me make it clear that this was my own opinion and the Romney campaign didn’t have any knowledge of my call,” Dole said in a statement released to The Fix. “Gov. Branstad and I are good friends, and I called him up to tell him what I thought.”

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Mitt Romney raises the Iowa stakes

Mitt Romney raises the Iowa stakes

The news that Mitt Romney is going up with television ads in Iowa clears up any doubt that the former Massachusetts governor is making a real play to win the state’s caucuses and, in so doing, virtually ensure that he will be the Republican presidential nominee.

Romney’s campaign — both publicly and privately — sought to downplay the significance of the new ad campaign, insisting that this was always part of a slow-build strategy in a state where polling suggests the race is totally wide open.

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Rick Perry: It’s now or never

Rick Perry: It’s now or never

Texas Gov. Rick Perry stands at a now-or-never moment for his presidential campaign, teetering between second-tier status and emerging as the prime alternative to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the nomination fight.

There’s little question that circumstances have provided Perry with an opening that is almost too good to be true. Just as his inexplicable flirtation with birtherism raised further questions about his readiness for primetime — and earned him our “Worst Week in Washington” award — a path to a Perry comeback has presented itself.

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