Feeling optimistic, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday was positive on TV with an upbeat, new ad but in person went negative against President Barack Obama. He also announced an aggressive schedule of campaign events for the days leading up to next week's caucuses.
Romney, who is wrapping up a bus tour of eastern Iowa on Friday, planned to campaign in New Hampshire early Saturday before returning to Iowa that evening for a series of events on the economy. Those events are to be followed by six campaign rallies, mostly in eastern Iowa, from Sunday through Tuesday's caucuses, including an early morning one before voters start gathering to declare their candidate preferences.
Romney will then spend caucus night in Des Moines before flying to New Hampshire on Wednesday morning.
The newly planned events show a confident Romney campaign in the final five days of the campaign for Iowa. While Romney had spent months working to lower expectations that he would win here, the latest polls show him in strong position to win outright or finish in second place behind Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Romney's six rallies begin New Year's Day in Council Bluffs, in the western part of the state. In 2008, he did well in nearby counties where agribusiness drives the economy. He'll hold another set of rallies in eastern Iowa, where he also performed well.
The plans come as Romney began running a new, minute-long TV ad in Iowa. The spot shows clips from Romney's announcement speech in June. Romney also talks in the ad about the "spirit of enterprise" and focuses on the opportunities America has provided its people.
Romney repeated the pitch from the ad during an early-morning stop at a diner. He ignored his Republican rivals, who are also campaigning furiously in the state, and focused instead on the Democratic president.
"We have a choice in this coming election of what kind of America we're going to have," Romney told the crowd at J's Homestyle Cooking. "It's not just about replacing a president. It's about saving the soul of America. Are we going to change America into something we don't recognize?"
The former Massachusetts governor had two other events scheduled Thursday, including at Music Man Square in Mason City, the birthplace of playwright Meredith Willson. Willson set his play, "The Music Man," in a fictional Iowa town that he based on Mason City.