Gingrich Surge Prompts Romney To Change Tactics

I am just calling balls and strikes here (and have not favorite in the field), but when Mitt Romney says “its time for our closing argument,” I have to scratch my head. To many in the GOP base, Romney hasn’t even really made an opening argument beyond general election electability. Politico’s Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Reid J. Epstein have more:

Mitt Romney, facing anxiety from some of his own supporters after sliding back to second in a slew of polls, took a series of steps Tuesday to signal he’ll get more aggressive in the final weeks before voting begins.

Romney also indicated that he’s prepared for a long slog toward the Republican nomination – a nod to supporters who are getting spooked by Newt Gingrich’s growing lead in first-in-the-nation Iowa.

“I’ve still got about seven more days of fundraising, and then we get to spend almost all of our time politicking in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, a couple other states,” Romney told reporters here.

He also said that he was abandoning his media cocoon and planned to do more interviews in coming days.

“With regards to media, you’re going to see me on a lot more shows than I’ve been on in the last several months,” Romney said.

And with Gingrich appearing formidable in Iowa, the former Massachusetts governor predicted a drawn-out battle for the GOP nod.

“This will probably take longer than a week or two to sort out,” he said. “My expectation is that it’s going to be a campaign that is going to go on for a while.”

Taken together, such statements reflect the new reality Romney finds himself in less than a month before Iowa. With Gingrich surging in the caucuses, narrowing Romney’s advantage in New Hampshire and staking out a sizable lead in national polls, the former Massachusetts governor is entering a post-frontrunner phase that requires a more active engagement with both voters and his GOP rivals.

“It’s time for our closing argument. And I’m making the closing argument to the American people,” Romney said.

Hopes for wrapping up the nomination with a quick-strike victory, which would require a strong showing in Iowa, are fading. Romney’s comments effectively marked a public concession that the play-it-safe approach he’s held to so far this year – limiting his interviews and doing only modest amounts of retail campaigning – simply won’t cut it anymore.

Romney’s pivot toward a more forward-leaning approach comes as some of his closest advisers have expressed serious concerns to both the candidate and his high command about the state of his campaign, POLITICO has learned.

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