Romney fights to win Iowa caucus, prepared for national campaign


Mitt Romney, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, explains the importance of maintaining traditional American values during a campaign stop at Kinzler Construction in Ames on Thursday, Dec. 29. Romney’s stop in Ames came just five days before the Iowa caucuses, the first major electoral event leading up to the Republican National Convention in August 2012. 

Sarah Binder

Although the media and politics lovers waited anxiously for the extremely close Iowa caucus votes to trickle in, both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum seemed to consider it a victory, giving their speeches before the final votes were counted.

Romney congratulated Santorum before launching into his speech, during which he targeted Obama and discussed the Founding Fathers and values of America.

“Is that program so critical that we need to borrow money from China to pay for it?” he asked, pledging that the first program he would cut would be “Obamacare.”

“It’s really an election about the soul of America,” the former Massachusetts governor said at an over-capacity event at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. He was joined on stage by his wife and four of his five sons.

Romney spent much less time campaigning in Iowa than most of the other candidates, especially Santorum.

Romney has had a turbulent history in Iowa. After winning the Ames Straw Poll in 2007, he placed second in the 2008 Iowa caucus and failed to secure the Republican nomination. However, this election cycle, Romney has been a favorite among many Iowan editorial boards, including the Des Moines Register, Quad City Times, Souix City Journal and others. 

Those editorial boards, and several young voters at the Romney event, praised the former governor for his focus on the economy and perceived electability against Barack Obama.

“I believe his experience in the private sector is important with this dismal of economy,” said Chris Kinkor, a senior at Dowling High School who spoke on Romney’s behalf at West Des Moines’ Precinct 34 caucus.

He said it is important for young voters to pay attention to the issues.

“A lot of issues affect us and we don’t even realize it — such as Social Security,” he said.

Several high schoolers attended because of a class requirement. An AP government class presented by Central Academy at Roosevelt High School required students to volunteer or attend political functions for 10 hours. A group of students were “checking out all the parties.”

“Especially for college-age students, I think jobs are one of the biggest things on their minds, and I think that’s where Gov. Romney differentiates himself for the other candidates,” said Amanda Henneberg, Romney’s regional press secretary.

As other candidates have risen and fallen in Iowa polls, Romney has focused on the Republican nomination by criticizing President Barack Obama.

“I know this has been a tough three years,” he said at an event in Dubuque on Monday. “But these three years have been a detour, they’re not our destiny.”

In his speech Tuesday night, he definitively said “this has been a failed presidency” while criticizing Obama’s economic policies.

Henneberg said that Romney is “prepared to run a national campaign.”

However, going forward, Romney may face increased scrutiny from the other Republican candidates. On the morning of the caucuses, Newt Gingrich called Romney a liar and vowed to direct his campaign against him.

Santorum summed up his reaction to the breakneck Iowa race in two words when he took the stage at his event: “Game on.”