DES MOINES — A confident Mitt Romney opened caucus day in Iowa on Tuesday with a rally in downtown Des Moines, keeping his focus where it has been since he announced his candidacy, on President Obama rather than his Republican opponents.

His campaign advisers have continued to try to tamp down expectations, but there was no mistaking the sense of optimism the candidate has for a possible victory in Iowa on Tuesday night, a victory that would give him a big head start toward securing the Republican nomination.

Romney said on NBC’s “Today” show that he’s not predicting victory, though his rhetoric Monday was more expansive. The former Massachusetts governor held a narrow lead in the final polls, ahead of Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, whose rise in the final two weeks has reshaped the race once again.

Speaking to supporters Tuesday morning, Romney called Obama’s tenure “a failed presidency” and promised to turn the country around if given the chance. Recalling that Obama had said earlier that, if he didn’t fix the economy, he would be a one-term president, Romney said: “I’m here to collect. He’s out.”

Romney was joined on stage by his wife, Ann, four of his sons and his brother.


Ron and Rand Paul, a double dose of liberty

Supreme Court case involving Idaho lake house ignites conservative cause against EPA

Federal Eye: When are the 2012 federal holidays?