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Once an afterthought, Romney eyes Iowa with hope
Romney watches as rivals criticize each other, his hopes rise in state that spurned him in '08
By The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) ' Mitt Romney is watching as Republicans try to find a not-Romney alternative, and he likes what he sees.

Romney is looking with optimism at Iowa, a state that rejected him four years ago but now appears at least open to the possibility that he could be the GOP's presidential nominee. Romney plans to campaign on Friday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a larger-than-life figure whom conservatives courted to join the race before he endorsed Romney's presidential bid.

Romney's declared rivals, however, were working in overdrive to emerge as his chief rival ahead of Tuesday's lead-off nominating contest. None went directly after Romney though. Instead, they kept their focus on each other and hoped a strong showing in Iowa could yield momentum heading into New Hampshire and South Carolina.

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