It’s the state that broke his heart – and, ultimately, broke the back of his 2008 campaign.
But Mitt Romney is back in Iowa today, in just the latest indication that he may make a major play in the state that kicks off the campaign action next year after all.
It’s a play that holds significant risks but undeniable appeal for Romney’s campaign team. A second loss in Iowa – the state he spent $10 million to finish second in four years ago – would slow his early momentum, while a win could essentially end the primary season before it starts in Romney’s favor.
While Romney has barely campaigned in Iowa this year, he still holds onto a reservoir of support from his efforts four years ago, Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today.
“He’s done a remarkable job of holding onto the core of people who helped him finish second here last time around. And if you look at the way the chess pieces are arranged on the board, I think it’s possible that he could pull a win here in the same way that Bob Dole did in 1996,” Henderson told us.
Among the rest of the field, Henderson said Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are best-positioned to emerge from the pack for a possible upset, as Mike Huckabee did in 2008.
“If the air goes out of Herman Cain’s candidacy, I think Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are in the position to inherit some of those folks who have been supporting Herman Cain,” she said.
As for Cain, he could still hold on to his support, Henderson said. But she said prominent Republicans in the state – including Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa – are insistent that Cain needs to step up his campaigning in the Hawkeye State if he wants to win the caucuses.
“He point blank said if Cain wants to wrap this up he has to spend time in Iowa,” Henderson said of King.