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While skipping Iowa, Romney prepares for Bachmann

Mitt Romney may be quietly preparing to take on Congresswoman Michele Bachmann as his main rival for the Republican presidential nomination, says McKay Coppins in the Daily Beast.

Romney, who doesn’t speak poorly of the competition, appears to be preparing for Bachmann, even as he bypasses the hoopla in Iowa, with its straw poll and early caucuses.

It may be an interesting tussle, Coppins says:

In many ways, Bachmann is the perfect anti-Mitt candidate. A fiery Tea Party hero with a folksy demeanor and strong ties to the religious right, she stands in stark contrast with Romney, a practicing Mormon and buttoned-down manager type who has spent much of his career in private equity. If the GOP really is in the midst of a civil war, you’d be hard pressed to find a pair of candidates who more precisely represent the party’s dueling philosophies.

 While keeping to the high road, Romney may let Bachmann take Iowa:

[Political consultant Chuck] Warren says that means Romney will likely have to surrender socially conservative early-voting states like Iowa, where Bachmann surpassed him for the first time in a recent poll. (Romney, who lost in the Hawkeye State in 2008 despite winning the influential Ames Straw Poll there, is hoping to maintain low expectations in regards to the caucuses and has so far kept his distance.)

Instead, says Warren, the campaign plans to focus on winning New Hampshire, a more moderate state where Romney lives part-time, and Nevada, where a significant portion of the electorate shares his Mormon faith.

 And Coppins’ piece doesn’t discount a possible end game that would bring the two together:

Of course, whoever emerges the victor, Warren says, there is one potential result that could appease both camps: a Romney-Bachmann ticket.

“Whatever questions people have about Romney’s social bona fides, she would bring that in,” says Warren. “And at the same time, Romney helps with the fiscal issues. Everywhere I go I keep hearing that the two of them together would be powerful.”

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