ABC News’ Emily Friedman and Amy Bingham report:
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – It has been more than two months since Mitt Romney made an appearance in Iowa, and at his first stop in the Hawkeye State since August, Iowans were eager to find out just how committed the GOP presidential front-runner was to the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
After a student asked Romney if he planned to start making Iowa a priority in his campaign, the former Massachusetts governor was quick to dispel any doubts.
“Yes,” Romney responded emphatically at a Sioux City town hall today, to which the audience chuckled.
“I want to get the support of Iowa,” he continued, noting that this was not his first trip to the state and that he would “be here again and again.”
“I want to become the president of the United States,” Romney said. “You guys have a big say. Iowa comes first. You have an enormous say in who will be the next president of the United States.”
Romney spent most of the 40-mintue town hall blasting President Obama for going out on the campaign trail instead of staying in Washington to fix the economy. Obama spent the past three days on an American Jobs Act bus tour.
“Leadership is hard,” Romney told the gathering of about 150 people. “Reaching across the aisle with people who disagree with you and finding common ground is tough. He hasn’t been able to do with that. He likes campaigning. That’s what he’s been doing. We didn’t elect him to campaign. We elected him to lead, and we need that leadership. ”
While Romney reserved most of his criticism for the current president, he did not miss an opportunity to hit back at his GOP rival Rick Perry. Although he did not mention Perry by name, Romney launched a veiled attack at the Texas governor, accusing him of creating a “magnet” for illegal immigration by signing a bill that grants in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants.
“Texas was the first state to pass the Dream Act,” Romney said, referring to the law targeted at certain undocumented children who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, which Perry signed in 2001. “I vetoed that bill.”
Turning to social issues, Romney said he would not support a constitutional amendment stating that life began at conception, which would effectively ban birth control.
Although Romney said he agreed that “life beings and conception, birth control prevents conception,” he said abortion laws should be left up to the states, not decided by the federal government or the Supreme Court.
“I’m not campaigning for an amendment of some kind,” he said. “I’m campaigning for justices that will follow the Constitution and return the right to the state.”
Despite his tough rhetoric toward Perry, Romney had much kinder words for another of his Republican opponents. When a supporter asked how he felt about Herman Cain, Romney said, “Yeah, that’s a good guy.”
“What about a Romney-Cain ticket?” the supporter asked. Romney did not respond.
The GOP front-runner also declined to comment on whether Obama deserved any credit for the capture and killing of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, whose death was confirmed this morning.