Well-known Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen is praising Gov. Romney again:
Later Saturday afternoon, down the road in Ames, Romney proved why he’s the best organized of any of the GOP presidential candidates in Iowa. Over 200 activists showed up at the Gateway Hotel for a picnic someone had the good sense to bring inside on a sweltering day.
One year from now, the state GOP will hold its all-important straw poll in Ames. It’s a survey that in the past has knocked poor finishers out of the presidential race. Romney is already at work trying to win it.
He has made more than a half-dozen trips to the state and lined up some of the best political talent in the Iowa GOP to work for him. While some experts say Romney’s Mormon faith will hurt him with some voters, it seemed to be helping him here Saturday. Romney organizers said several church members showed up and are deciding on their own to volunteer. “We don’t have to work it,” said a key operative. “It works itself.”
It’s a measure of Romney’s dedication to his Iowa effort that he broke away from the “Big Dig” calamity in Boston to keep his commitments in Iowa. Romney has taken charge of the investigation into the collapse of some ceiling tiles inside a Boston tunnel, a collapse that killed a woman, closed part of the system and raised new questions about the safety and quality of work done on the project. Some in Boston thought he should have remained in the state to deal with the issue.
Romney wins good reviews for his can-do style and upbeat message. Charisse Schwarm, a longtime GOP activist from Lake Mills, sought me out to note how he reminded her of Ronald Reagan and the effect he had on crowds.
That Reagan standard is a tough one for any Republican to meet. If Romney’s meeting it with people like Schwarm, he’s well on his way toward winning the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses.