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Republican hopeful Romney to speak in Iowa Friday

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 7 Dec 2011 22:00 GMT
Author: Reuters
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WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will hold a town hall meeting in Iowa on Friday in a marked effort to raise his profile in a key nominating state where rival Newt Gingrich is surging.

Romney's campaign said on Wednesday he would discuss jobs and the economy at the event in Cedar Rapids.

The former Massachusetts governor is struggling to catch up in Iowa with Gingrich, whose recent surge in the Republican race threatens Romney's front-runner status.

According to a much-watched Iowa poll conducted for the Des Moines Register newspaper last weekend, former U.S. House of Representatives speaker Gingrich had the support of 25 percent of likely Republican voters while Romney trailed with just 18 percent.

The Iowa caucuses, set for Jan. 3, kick off the state-by-state primaries to choose the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election.

Romney could face an uphill battle in Iowa. The state has a substantial bloc of conservative voters distrustful of Romney's past support for abortion rights and a Massachusetts healthcare overhaul similar to Obama's federal law.

Romney has held back from mounting a huge campaign in Iowa, where he spent millions in 2008 but lost the caucuses to Mike Huckabee. (Reporting by Lily Kuo; editing by Todd Eastham)

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