Republican Mitt Romney suggests that after the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary narrow the field of presidential candidates, the GOP race will boil down to a contest between Rudy Giuliani and a "more conservative" candidate like himself.
"Those of us who represent this coalition, if you will, the house that Ronald Reagan built — those of us who represent that base will find that we get the support to go on and ultimately face up, I think…one-to-one relative to Mayor Giuliani and I think at that point that he’ll face a more challenging time," Romney said Friday morning during taping of an Iowa Public Television program, "because I do believe that the Republican Party…is not going to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House by acting like Hillary Clinton. We have to be distinct. We have to act like Republicans."
Romney described Giuliani as "alone" on one side, while a group of as many as six GOP candidates stand "on the other side" — and Romney puts himself in that "other" group. "I think the mayor is a terrific guy and has a strong platform," Romney said on IPTV. "You know, I think his positions are not entirely aligned with the mainstream Republican voter."
Romney, who has realigned his own public position on abortion from pro-choice to pro-life, told reporters after the show’s taping that Giuliani’s major stumbling block with most Republican voters is over the abortion issue. "Being pro-choice, as the mayor says he is, would mean that he is not going to take the same positions as somebody who is pro-life," Romney said.
A spokesman for the Giuliani campaign said Romney’s rhetoric sounds like "sour grapes." "Mayor Giuliani’s support continues to grow and Mitt’s numbers are dropping despite spending millions of his own money," Jarrod Agen, an Iowa-based spokesman for Giuliani, said in a prepared statement.
In recent public opinion polls of Iowa Republicans who are likely to go to the Caucuses, Romney has been in the lead. Romney has focused much of his time and ad money on Iowa and New Hampshire and he will apparently keep to that strategy through January 3rd, the date of the Caucuses. "I think I’m going to see a lot of snow and corn stubble," Romney told reporters with a laugh. "I’ll be spending a lot of time in Iowa and probably in New Hampshire as well."
Romney campaigned in Iowa on Friday morning. He is skipping Saturday’s Iowa Republican Party’s fundraising banquet in Des Moines. Candidates John Cox, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Fred Thompson are all scheduled to speak at the event.