Though his campaign publicly downplays a shift in their Iowa strategy, mounting evidence points to Mitt Romney increasing his presence, and ground game in the Hawkeye state.
This past Monday, while making an infrequent campaign appearance in Iowa, the former Massachusetts governor not only taped a TV ad in Dubuque, but FOX confirmed earlier this week that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Romney's major surrogate, will also be visiting the state.
Now that Herman Cain's trajectory is potentially impeded by sexual harassment allegations, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry suffered through a wincingly-bad debate, the Romney camp sees an even bigger opportunity to place better than expected in the first in the nation caucuses, according to sources in Iowa. As the GOP field fractures, the opening widens in Iowa for Romney to re-establish himself as the clear front-runner.
A successful result there, maybe not a win, but a strong 2nd or 3rd finish, could lead to an emphatic win on January 10th in New Hampshire -- a state where he already enjoys a strong lead--- that would give Romney insurmountable momentum for the GOP nomination.
Iowa Republican insiders say Romney's recent moves have generated positive interest there but there is still a collective wait-and-see approach about what Romney will do in the coming days and weeks.
"Romney has a pretty good ground game going, but it has been a little under the radar," one high-ranking Republican chairwoman in Iowa said in an interview. "I think we will probably see Romney more in Iowa."
The party official also said that Romney's economic prowess, and his strength in a general election matchup vs. President Barack Obama has also been an increasingly significant factor for some Iowa caucus goers.
"This particular year at Caucus night, I think, a lot of voters are going to say 'okay who can beat Obama?'," the party official added. "You look at Romney and he has remained steady the whole time."
Though she lost her race, many in the Iowa GOP were also impressed by Romney's wife and son's efforts in campaigning for state senate candidate Cindy Golding, a conservative small businesswoman. Golding lost to a former local TV anchorwoman.