Romney's Iowa Book Club
I have been meaning to get to this Jonathan Martin article on Mitt Romney and Iowa for a few days now. Romney was there earlier this week to promote his new book, give a few speeches, and maybe do a little reconnaissance for 2012. According to the governor, however, he was mainly there to move product. I’ve written previously about the possibility that Romney may retool for the next campaign by focusing primarily on jobs, and that he may seek the nomination with a blue state strategy which circumvents some of the more socially conservative states that gave him trouble the last time around.
In his piece, Martin raises the related question of whether a retooled Romney campaign could afford to largely ignore Iowa in 2012, just as the McCain campaign did in 2008, or if doing so would cause unnecessary problems for Romney both at the conservative grassroots and with some Republican political elites. The operative assumption here is that just like in New Hampshire, voters in the Hawkeye State don’t like being told that their caucus isn’t essential to securing the presidential nomination, which is basically what Romney would be signaling by not making a serious effort in the state.
My guess is that Romney will commit to as little as possible in Iowa, without seeming like he is dissing the state’s cherished political traditions. He had such difficulty trying to win over social and religious conservatives the last time that there isn’t much to be gained by going down that road again. As Martin suggests, if there are no high-profile social conservatives in the race (Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, etc.) then perhaps Romney might make a bigger investment in Iowa. But the same voters will be back again in 2012, and given the current political environment (tea partiers and all), they are likely to be even more ideologically hardcore than before. If Romney really intends to go forward with this revamped campaign strategy, then Iowa would mainly serve as a distraction from his ultimate objective.

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