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Romney to run more aggressive campaign

Mitt Romney
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney solicits votes in New Hampshire AP Photo/Jim Cole

After months of focusing on President Obama and pretending as if the Republican nomination were already his, Mitt Romney is changing his tune.

Faced with falling poll numbers in Iowa and a surprise surge from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the former Massachusetts governor plans a more aggressive strategy for his campaign for the Republican nomination that includes a higher profile, more interviews with the press and attacks on his fellow Republicans.

Romney has largely written off Iowa, where voters are more conservative than other Republicans and caucus goers are more conservative still. And many are skeptical of the candidate who was not only chief executive of a state that was home to Ted Kennedy, he signed into a law a health care plan that was used as a model for President Obama's signature legislative achievement.

Romney has focused on neighboring New Hampshire and paid mostly lip service to Iowa, where his rivals have been barnstorming for votes in the Jan. 3 contest.

Since October, Romney has been to the Hawkeye state just twice.

That is about to change.

"Now it's time to make our case to the American people and to the people in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida and so I'll be seeing you more often," Romney pledged on Tuesday, referring to four of the early states in the 2012 Republican primary season.

He's spending $265,000 in ad space in Iowa and New Hampshire this week alone.

On Saturday, Romney joined hundreds of volunteers fanned out all over New Hampshire to knock on doors and make volunteer phone calls on this behalf.

"We got 500 people that are knocking on doors today. I want them to know I am also knocking on doors," Romney said.

"This is a primary to be won by the person willing to put in the effort, and use the shoe leather to get the job done. The people in New Hampshire take a close look at who's running, and I intend to (let them get) a very close look," Romney said.

Jason McBride, state director for New Hampshire said the campaign will "outwork" its rivals.

"Even though we've been up in the polls, we've been working like we're 10 points down," he said.

Romney also plans to make himself more available to the press, and he has already started the process.

He plans to be on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Dec. 18, his first Sunday television interview since 2008.

Romney was so unavailable to the press, other campaigns have taken to mocking him for hiding.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman unveiled "Scared Mittless," a website with a running countdown clock since his last press conference and appearance on a Sunday television show.

It is not just formal interviews that Romney now plans.

Kicking through the leaves in Manchester, New Hampshire last weekend, the press saw a side of Romney they are not used to seeing. He played catch with a three year old he passed. He discussed what door-knocking had been like as a Mormon missionary in France. He shared some details about his holiday plans, noting that his Christmas lights had yet to be hung, since the family didn't know where he would be for the holidays this year.

And, perhaps most significantly, Romney is now attacking his rivals instead of focusing solely on Mr. Obama.

On Wednesday he unveiled a new ad, Leader, that took a clear swipe at the thrice-married Gingrich, whose current wife was his mistress at the end of his second marriage.

"I think people understand that I'm a man of steadiness and constancy. I don't think you're going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do," Romney says in the ad, which uses a clip from a debate on CNBC last month.

"I've been married to the same woman for 25 - excuse me, I'll get in trouble - for 42 years. I've been in the same church my entire life," Romney says in the ad.