Mitt Romney: "Not going to worry" about attacks


Today, CBS News debuts "Face to Face" a mid-week online "Face the Nation" extra, which will feature a one-on-one interview with Bob Schieffer and a top newsmaker. In the premiere episode, Schieffer interviews Iowa caucuses winner Mitt Romney.

Coming off an historically narrow victory in Tuesday night's Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney - who beat his Republican rival Rick Santorum by just eight votes - seemed unconcerned Wednesday morning about the inevitable impending attacks on his candidacy, telling CBS News "I'm not going to worry about what comes my way."

Romney, speaking to CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer in the premiere episode of CBS News' new web show "Face to Face," said he had "broad enough shoulders" to handle criticism from both the right and the left.

"Sticks and stones will break my bones; I'm not going to worry about what comes my way," Romney told Schieffer. "I'm going to describe my views on issues, keep battling ahead, and make sure that people understand how I can get the country working again."

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The former Massachusetts governor promised that if "Newt or anyone else" wants to attack his candidacy, he'll be ready.

"If Newt or anyone else wants to come after me, look, I've got to have broad enough shoulders to handle that -- because what's going to come from the Democratic National Committee and from the White House, and President Obama is going to be extraordinary."

Romney, who lumped himself together with Santorum and Iowa's third-place finisher Ron Paul as Tuesday night's caucus winners, declined to predict success for himself in the upcoming New Hampshire primary, despite his overwhelming lead in the state in the polls.

"I'm encouraged by how things appear at this point, but look, I can't take New Hampshire for granted," he said. "I've got to earn it and work it very hard... This campaign has a long way to go before we have our nominee."

Unlike many observers, who question Santorum's appeal among Republican voters in more moderate states (Iowa has a large population of social conservatives and evangelical Christians), Romney said he thought the former Pennsylvania senator would be a "real contender" for the GOP nomination.

"It's so hard to tell what's going to happen from the other contenders, whether they'll be able to get the funding and the ground teams they need to go on to the subsequent states," Romney said. "Rick Santorum spent a lot of time, as you know, here in Iowa. He's now going to have to build that support elsewhere, but I don't think he's at ground zero elsewhere. He's been working those other places, he's got good support and I think he'll be a real contender."

He added that, based on recent events, he considered Santorum and Paul his "toughest competition."

"I'm not enough of a pundit to know how each of the candidates stacks up right now but I think [Santorum will] find in the polls in New Hampshire in the coming days that he'll be the one who rises by virtue of his success here in Iowa along with Ron Paul, I think he'll also come up and so I think those are the guys that look like the toughest right now."