Romney Flirts with Iowa

Jim Cole/AP Photo

From John Berman and Emily Friedman:

A different Mitt Romney is heading back to a different Iowa next week. It’s a Mitt Romney showing signs he thinks he might have a shot at winning the Iowa Caucuses, and it’s an Iowa that might just be more receptive to a Romney candidacy.

ABC News has confirmed that Romney is traveling back to Iowa, on a trip first reported by Politico, with stops in the Western part of the state. It’s his first journey to Iowa since the before the Ames Straw poll in August, and just his third of the year.

The Romney campaign has played it cool with Iowa this cycle, not wanting to go “all-in” like he did in 2008, only to fall short to Mike Huckabee. Iowa is seen as a tough state for Romney, with social issues often dominating the concerns of Republican voters.

But with the non-entry of Sarah Palin and the faltering campaign of Rick Perry, the Romney folks believe there “may be” an opportunity there.

They have clearly kept a keen eye on Iowa for some time. A source within the campaign told ABC News the Hawkeye state is just one of four states where the Romney campaign has conducted polling (along with New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida). A different source close to the campaign says new public polling showing Romney with a lead there is in-line with what they have seen. This trip — beginning Oct. 20 — has been in planning stages for “a while.”

Ron Kaufmann, a lobbyist with close ties to the Romney team, told ABC News last week, “we want to compete everywhere.”

Of course, wanting to compete and thinking there is a chance to win are two different things, and now the Romney folks seem to be contemplating whether there is a chance for both. When asked whether Romney could win Iowa, one adviser responded, “I don’t know. What I do know is that Rick Perry needs to win Iowa.”

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