Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney (Randy Miramontez/Dreamstime.com and Larry Downing/Reuters)
The Atlantic's Chris Good points to the latest sign that Romney will skip Iowa altogether: a report from the Wall Street Journal in which Romney advisers conspicuously exclude Iowa from their list of top tier targets.
Obviously, what's going on here is that Mitt Romney is afraid of getting spanked by Iowa conservatives—and he's probably right to be afraid. Even though he finished second in Iowa in 2008, this time around, the GOP base has moved way to the right, and they are unlikely to want to hear anything from the guy who authored RomneyCare. Moreover, he'd face two candidates from neighboring Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann (who keeps on getting love from Iowa conservatives).
Romney's fear of Republican voters doesn't appear to be limited to Iowa, however: his advisers also neglected to discuss their plans in South Carolina, which has traditionally been controlled by the GOP establishment, but has now become tea party ground zero. Skipping Iowa alone, might not be a big deal; John McCain finished far behind Huckabee and Romney in Iowa in 2008, but if Romney skips Iowa and South Carolina, he'll be following more closely in Rudy Giuliani's footsteps than in John McCain's.
It's not that Romney is wrong to be afraid of South Carolina's GOP electorate. Jim DeMint, the state's most powerful GOPer, recently savaged him for RomneyCare. But skipping states like Iowa and South Carolina sends the message that the one thing Mitt Romney fears more than anything else is the Republican primary electorate. And for a guy asking Republicans to nominate him as their candidate for the presidency, that's a pretty bad message to send.