Iowa primary: Romney makes final push - starting with financial group

Published January 3, 2008 11:37 am

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Posted: 11:37 AM- DES MOINES - Presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched a last-minute push to win the Iowa caucuses today, addressing a group of financial advisers before heading on to another company's headquarters - and later to speak to an actual caucus group.

Romney appeared confident of a good showing in the caucuses, even taking questions from some 500 Iowans at the Principle Financial Group in downtown Des Moines - something he hasn't allowed for several days.

He sounded as though he is ready to be the GOP nominee.

"I can't wait to debate Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama or John Edwards," Romney said. "I can't wait for that chance."

Romney has staked a lot in doing well in the Iowa caucuses, the first official test of the presidential nominating process, but has lowered expectations, saying that he will be pleased with a second place showing.

Tonight, he plans to huddle at the Sheraton in West Des Moines to await results, then hop a plane to New Hampshire to get a head start on that state's first in the nation primary five days later.

Romney made no predictions about tonight's results, though two new polls split on who is leading the caucuses.

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, was on hand to stump for Romney, doing radio interviews with various stations and talking to reporters from across the country.

Bennett, who will later speak to a caucus on Romney's behalf, says it's unclear who will eke out a victory tonight, but noted that it's close enough that even if Romney finishes second, "it probably won't hurt him as far as New Hampshire is concerned."

But, he added about tonight, "No one is making any firm predictions either way."

tburr@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">tburr@sltrib.com

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