CEDAR RAPIDS — Despite the recent surge by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Iowa precinct caucuses are wide open and could produce more than one winner, Sen. Chuck Grassley predicted.
The Iowa Republican, who has chosen not to endorse any of the 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls, said Dec. 7 that too many Iowa caucusgoers are willing to change their minds for him predict a winner.
However, Grassley does expect a tight race.
“I think you may have two or three winner,” Grassley told Iowa reporters during a conference call. “I don’t think there will be a wide difference between first, second and third places.”
Grassley went on to predict the GOP field — currently Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry — will narrow after Iowa’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses and the New Hampshire primary a week later.
“You’re going to find three to four people after New Hampshire, but some of those are going to have a lot more money than others,” Grassley said. Candidates without money won’t be able to buy the television time they need to compete in South Carolina and other states, he said. Campaigns there aren’t like the retail politics candidates practice in Iowa.
“They’ve got to get on television and they won’t be able to rely on free TV they are getting now,” he said.
That might benefit Romney, who has deeper pockets than other candidates.
Grassley went out of his way to defend Romney’s conservative bona fides.
“I think Romney’s fairly conservative,” Grassley said. “He may not be viewed enough by people that way, but I think he will have plenty of opportunity to show his conservative credentials.”
As for Gingrich, Grassley voiced surprise at his rise to the top of polls both in Iowa and nationally.
“He’s got a whole new political life,” Grassley said. “I think we’ve seen the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich several times.”
Grassley chalked up Gingrich’s recent success to the fact he is “totally consistent. And persistent.”
Grassley again declined to endorse any candidate, explaining he saw “most of the Republican candidates as people that would make good presidents and people who could beat (President) Obama.”
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