Breaking with his campaign’s long-standing effort to moderate expectations in Iowa, Mitt Romney appeared to declare Monday that he was on track to win in Iowa’s caucuses on Tuesday.

But after making the statement here, his campaign quickly moved to clarify that he meant he was on track to win the GOP nomination rather than the Hawkeye State

“We’re gonna win this thing with all of our passion and strength and do everything we can to get this campaign on the right track to go across the nation and to pick up other states and to get the ballots I need and the votes I need to become our nominee,” Romney said at an appearance in Marion, Iowa, according to the Post’s Philip Rucker.

The Romney campaign quickly clarified that Romney was referring to the nomination rather than Iowa. But in the quote, he seems to describe winning “this thing” as a precursor to getting “this campaign on the right track to go across the nation” and become the nominee. That sounds a lot like he was talking about Iowa.

What's more, he had been talking about getting Iowa voters to turn out at the caucuses immediately before the quote above.

Even if you establish that he was talking about Iowa, of course, one could make the case that he was rallying the troops rather than making a prediction.

But at this point, we’re not sure it really matters.

The expectations are largely set, and Romney probably realizes that a second-place finish won’t be seen as a win for him.