Romney says he can win ‘in Dixie’ and has eyes on Texas

WithTexas Gov. Rick Perry preparing to announce his presidential candidacy, the front-runner of the unsettled Republican field, Mitt Romney, signaled Monday night that he would not cede any territory.

Asked at a town hall meeting here whether he could compete in the South, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, said he would compete all over the country.

“I think I can do pretty darn well in Dixie,” Romney said. “Last time around [in his 2008 campaign], I made a real stand in Florida. Now most people don’t consider that Dixie, but it sure is the South. And I sure hope to win the primaries in Florida, get some delegates out of Florida, and I’d sure like to win South Carolina. And West Virginia.”

Then Romney turned to Texas.

“There was a poll, I guess about a month ago, that was a little surprising,” Romney said. “It had me as the only Republican candidate who in Texas could beat President Obama.”

“So I’d like to get Texas,” Romney added, “and, you know, Mississippi, Alabama — I want all the states.”

It was unclear which poll Romney was referencing. A June poll by Public Policy Polling found Obama performing weakest against Romney in Texas, trailing him 42 percent to 50 percent. The poll also found Obama beating Perry in the Lone Star State, while the president trailed Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, albeit by smaller margins than Romney’s.

In the town hall, Romney acknowledged the difficulty of running the table, saying, “I know I’m not going to get them all.”

Romney also signaled that the nomination battle could be long.

“This is a race for me of getting the delegates and winning the nomination, and that’s going to be a long process in my opinion,” Romney said. “That’s why I have to campaign across the nation and raise the money.”

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.

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