Elections 2012: With 48 Hours Left, Mitt Romney Eyes Iowa Breakthrough

The Republican White House hopefuls launched a two-day dash to the finish in Iowa on Sunday, with front-runner Mitt Romney poised for a strong showing that could set him on the path to the nomination.

After months of campaigning, a long series of debates and the rise and fall of one challenger after another, no one has yet shown that they can knock off Mr. Romney. Despite running a largely mistake-free campaign, Mr. Romney has yet to prove that he can break through the ceiling of support of about 25 percent in many polls that has defined his candidacy in a fractured field. Photo: WEBN-TV/Flickr

Mitt Romney sought to convert his tentative standing atop the polls into a first-place finish in the caucuses here, telling Iowans on Sunday that he had the “capability to go the full distance” against President Obama, as his rivals beseeched voters not to settle on a candidate lacking full commitment to their conservative values, The New York Times reports.

The former Massachusetts governor leads the party field both in Iowa, where tomorrow’s caucuses will give the candidates their first test, and in New Hampshire, where voters go to the polls next Tuesday.

If successful, Mr Romney would become the first Republican challenger in the modern primary system’s 35-year history to win both states.

According to The Telegraph, party strategists concede that such a scenario would effectively end the contest after just one week of voting.

Romney holds a slight edge over rival Ron Paul in recent polls in Iowa, which holds the first contest in the state-by-state battle to pick a challenger to President Barack Obama in 2012.

“I’m pretty confident we’ll have a good night. I don’t know who’s going to win,” Romney told supporters at a packed restaurant in Atlantic, Iowa, adding he was “energized” ahead of Tuesday’s contest.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney was faced with a new challenge from Rick Santorum, who emerged as the latest in a rotating cast of surging alternatives, ebullient about his rising standing in the polls and support from excited crowds on Sunday in Sioux City and Rock Rapids.

“Don’t put forward somebody who isn’t good enough to do what’s necessary to change this country,” Mr. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, said at a town-hall-style meeting in Sioux City, feeding off his new status as a real contender here.

“Put forward someone that you know has the vision, the trust, the authenticity, the background, the record to make that happen.”

Romney’s answer to questions about Santorum on Sunday was indicative of how little he feels threatened by the surging candidate. Romney cast himself as a business man and Santorum as a career politician, but as political punches went, it was decidedly on the light side.

“I can tell you that our backgrounds are quite different,” Romney said. “Like Speaker Gingrich, Sen. Santorum has spent his career in the government, in Washington. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a very different background than I have.”

 The two Republican candidates most capable of sustaining a challenge to him beyond January — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — appear likely to finish outside the top three, badly hurting any chance they might have at gaining any momentum, informs The Huff Post.

Mitt Romney also continued his attacking Barack Obama, this time comparing him to Kim Kardashian.

“I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama, then candidate Obama, going through Iowa making promises,” he said. “I think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of til death do we part.”

This isn’t the first time Romney has compared Obama to a famous female, either. He likened the president to deposed French queen Maria Antoinette on Friday.

Iowa’s caucuses do not have an especially good record of predicting Republican nominees. But the result here could be an indicator of whether Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, is succeeding in rallying conservatives behind him or whether he faces months of struggle to win delegates and resolve the rifts within the party.

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