Is it Mitt in Iowa?

Romney has long downplayed the importance of the first-in-the-nation caucuses, but an increasingly likely win would help him cruise to the nomination

Robert Shrum

What a difference a few days — and more than a few dollars of attack ads from the Romney super-PAC — have made in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Mitt himself piously and hypocritically denounces all super-PACs, even as his shreds Newt. The attacks have been amplified in the media echo chamber, reinforced by a relentless barrage from the GOP establishment, and validated by Gingrich's chronic and flap-mouthed tendency to verbal excesses that he can't or won't explain away. Witness his attempt to deal with his Freddie Mac windfall by boasting about how much he makes in an hour for speeches to special interest groups — more than most American families earn in a year. And now in Iowa, he has suffered the defection of religious right leaders briefly inclined to him; their followers simply declined to forgive his past personal transgressions, even if the Lord has.

So it turns out that Newt isn't teflon after all, but more like velcro. Ron Paul has grabbed a lead in the Hawkeye State, with Romney even edging ahead in one poll. Ironically, more of the Gingrich voters there name Romney as their second choice — all of which opens up the possibility that he could seize a longshot victory from the jaws of long-likely defeat, cement his comfortable lead in New Hampshire, ride the resulting momentum to a respectable finish in Mormon-averse South Carolina, then take Florida and almost certainly an early nomination.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.