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Iowa: Romney Leads, Santorum Rises, Steve King Weighs Choice

By Scott Conroy - January 1, 2012

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In the interview with RCP, King did not even mention Michele Bachmann -- his good friend in Congress -- nor did he bring up Rick Perry, who has also sought King’s endorsement with particular ferocity.

King did go out of his way to lavish praise upon Romney, whom he called “the consummate executive.”

“I’m not one who is worried about a Romney nomination, as some of the conservatives are here,” King said. “The trains would run on time and there would be a business plan. It wouldn’t be as bold a stroke as I would like, and he doesn’t have the leverage to do the repeal of Obamacare with a definitive approach that would come from the other candidates, for the reasons we know. But on the other hand, he’d have more reasons to prove his point.”

Five of the six GOP candidates competing in Iowa were busy pressing the flesh on Saturday in a flurry of campaign stops across the state, while Paul spent New Year’s weekend resting up with his wife in Texas.

National front-runner Romney showed off his unique organizational and financial strength as a candidate by making a quick Saturday appearance in New Hampshire, where he remains a heavy favorite, before returning to Iowa for another round of events in Le Mars and Sioux City.

Gingrich and Perry -- who stand at 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in the Register poll -- appeared to be stagnating in the state. Each is badly in need of a stronger showing than what their current poll standings demonstrate in order to be viable candidates in New Hampshire and beyond.

Meanwhile, the bottom appears to have fallen out of Bachmann’s campaign, as the Ames Straw Poll winner has dropped all the way to sixth place and stands at just 7 percent in the Register’s poll.

During a campaign stop in Fort Dodge on Friday, she implored undecided Iowans to “vote for an Iowa woman who’s a job creator” and was urged by one supporter to “stay in there until the end.”

While Mark Miller of Fort Dodge is considering caucusing for Bachmann, he said that he is giving deeper thought to getting behind Santorum.

“He’s got a lot of the values of family and everything else,” Miller said of the former Pennsylvania senator. “I want to see that [Bachmann] still has the fight.” 

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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