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OPINION

Romney confident he'll be in 'top group' in Iowa

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DES MOINES -- Mitt Romney predicted today he'll be "among the top group" in tonight's Iowa GOP caucuses and made a final pitch for his vision of America's future as voters here get ready to cast the first ballots of the 2012 presidential election.

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In an interview with MSNBC, the former Massachusetts governor echoed the sentiment of many that it's hard to forecast the outcome in what has been a roller coaster-like final stretch of campaigning in Iowa.

"It's hard to predict exactly what's going to happen," Romney said during an MSNBC interview. "I think I'll be among the top group."

At the Temple for the Performing Arts here, Romney rallied his supporters with attacks on President Obama. He made no mention of his GOP rivals Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, his chief opponents according to the final Iowa Poll, or any of the other Republican candidates.

"The last three years have been tough," Romney said, referring to Obama's time in the White House. "I believe it's been a detour ... not our destination."

Although some of Romney's supporters in attendance said they believe he'll do well tonight, they said coming in first isn't necessary.

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"I don't think he has to win," said Nancy Coplen, a member of Romney's Texas finance committee, who has been in Iowa since last week. Iowa is "a staging area," she said. "It's not who wins Iowa, it's important who makes a stand."

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who joined Romney on the Iowa campaign trail yesterday, agreed.

"If you said he had a chance to win a month ago, no one would have believed it," Flake said. "He has the infrastructure in place to move ahead."

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