Mitt Romney steps up his campaigning in Iowa

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

For months, Mitt Romney has played coy about whether he'd make a serious bid to win Iowa's first in the nation presidential caucuses. But the question no longer seems to be whether he'll make the state a priority, but rather how big his campaign push will be.

The Republican presidential candidate was back in the state today for the second time in three weeks, this time stumping in Eastern Iowa. Speaking at a steel company in Dubuque, the former Massachusetts governor offered perhaps the most literal sign yet that he's on the verge of a serious push in Iowa.

As he appealed to voters for their support, Romney stumped in front of a massive piece of sheet metal carved into the shape of the state of Iowa and stamped with his campaign's 2012 logo.

"This is a critical time for us. I don't want to wake up a year from now and turn on my TV and have it say 'President Obama re-elected.' Because I know what that means: It means a weaker America," Romney declared, per the Des Moines Register. "I want to see a new president take America in a great tradition and a new tradition, one that makes America the best place in the world to be middle class again, and I will be that president."

Romney's comments come as his campaign has quietly hired additional staff in the state in recent weeks. And over the weekend, the Romney campaign launched robo-calls attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has doubled down on his own campaign efforts in the state in hopes of regaining momentum in the GOP primary.

The calls attacked Perry's moderate views on immigration—a major issue among conservative Iowa caucus-goers.

"Rick Perry is part of the illegal immigration problem," Sheriff Paul Babeu, from southwestern Arizona, said on the message, per the Associated Press's Tom Beaumont.

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