As reported by The NY Times, Romney Shifts in Iowa, Playing to Win Quickly:
Mr. Romney, who has been cautiously calibrating expectations about his chances in a state full of social conservatives, is now playing to win the Iowa caucuses. Television commercials are on the way, volunteers are arriving and a stealth operation is ready to burst into view in the weeks leading up to the caucuses, the first Republican nominating contest, on Jan. 3.
The escalation of his effort in Iowa, along with a more aggressive schedule in New Hampshire and an expanding presence in South Carolina, is the strongest indication yet that Mr. Romney is shifting from a defensive, make-no-mistakes crouch to an assertive offensive strategy. If he can take command in the three early-voting states, he could make the nominating battle a swift one.
Makes sense for a campaign which cannot gain traction beyond its 25%. Get that 25% to the caucuses and let everyone else split the rest, declare victory, and move on.
But it’s risky, because if Romney cannot break through 25% (which was his 2008 Iowa result) by a large margin, it simply will feed the narrative that he is the 25%.
This last point seems to sum up what is wrong with the Romney campaign:
He declined to appear at a forum on Saturday organized by a prominent social conservative activist, Bob Vander Plaats. Mr. Romney’s advisers say he is not trying to persuade his critics to support him, but rather to find voters who like his economic message and believe that he is the party’s strongest nominee.
Persuade. Persuade. Persuade. Fight to win people over. If you can’t do in now, or at least will not try, why should we believe you can do it in the fall general election?
I can’t predict that his strategy will not work. It might since the not-Romney crowd still is crowded. But it’s an admission that Romney is trying to win as the default candidate. It is, to paraphrase George Will, something we would expect of Michael Dukakis.