Riding a strong wave of Iowa support in recent days, an increasingly confident Mitt Romney told Fox News' Carl Cameron Friday, "I think we'll do well here. I'm not predicting a win but I'm predicting a good start."
Campaigning in West Des Moines, Iowa with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at his side, Romney cautiously added, "It's a long road...I just want to do well. Hey, second, third, fourth, just a lot of support. I'm fine. Look I know that there's a lot of excitement about the first contest and how you do in the first contest but this is a long road. This time particularly with delegates being allocated on proportional basis, and I anticipate we're going to go the distance and get the nomination."
The Republican candidates are making their final pitch to voters ahead of January 3rd's Iowa Caucus.
Christie told Cameron, "What matters is who's the best person to be president of the United States. Who's the best person to take on Barack Obama in November? And what these crowds indicate to me is Iowa is starting to figure out that Mitt Romney is the best guy to take on Barack Obama in November and that's what they care about the most."
Cameron pressed Romney on a number of issues, including the suddenly surging Rick Santorum campaign. Santorum has done his best to paint Romney as an unreliable conservative.
Romney cooly responded, "I'm not going to worry about slings and arrows that come my way. I'm gonna make sure that my message is heard loud and clear across the country. I think if people want someone who spent his life not in Washington, not as a career politician, but as someone who understands how the economy works and can get America working again, then I'm going to have America's support."
Asked whether he thought he had the stamina to withstand the near-constant attacks from both the right and the left, Romney told Cameron, "You gotta have broad shoulders if you're gonna take on a race like this. I know the President's team is attacking me regularly. I will have opponents of course in this contest but if you can't stand this little heat you're not going to be able to deal with Barack Obama's hell's kitchen. And he's gonna have billion dollars to throw at our nominee, I hope it's me. But I'm ready for it and we'll be able to fight back good and hard ourselves."
Perhaps in another sign of just how much confidence his team has these days, Romney was set to dash off to New Hampshire later Friday for a series of campaign stops. He'll return to Iowa on Saturday afternoon and plans to remain in the state through caucus night.