Romney steps up pace of campaign as caucuses near

By Kasie Hunt

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 7 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Romney campaign aides are counting on a long, drawn-out fight that will allow them to take advantage of their strengths compared with Gingrich's. Romney can afford to shift focus to retail politicking now because of how much money he's already sitting on — by the end of September, he had raised more than $32 million. Gingrich, by contrast, was still more than $1 million in debt and had raised just $2.9 million.

Romney has spent the past year building and maintaining organizations in states that don't hold early primaries. Under new rules for the Republican National Convention, candidates can collect delegates even from states where they don't win, as they will be awarded proportionally.

That means a longer fight — especially against Gingrich, who had to recover from his campaign's near-implosion in June — leaves Romney in a stronger position.

Romney's campaign is also relying increasingly on key campaign surrogates, particularly in Iowa. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who considered running for president himself, will campaign there for Romney on Wednesday. Romney's son Josh campaigned for him there recently as well. Romney's wife, Ann, met with activists in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Romney will spend the rest of the week continuing his usual mix of fundraising and limited public appearances. He'll make a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington on Wednesday and hold a fundraiser in Richmond, Va., on Thursday. On Friday, he has one campaign stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ahead of Saturday's debate in Des Moines.

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