Romney working Iowa quietly for caucus surprise

By THOMAS BEAUMONT | October 13, 2011 | 3:10 AM EDT

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Daniel Acker, Pool)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Make no mistake, Mitt Romney is competing in Iowa.

After months of lying low in the leadoff caucus state, Romney is stepping up his public presence in Iowa with hopes of generating momentum for the follow-up New Hampshire primary.

It's not the $10 million effort he waged in Iowa four years ago. Then, he finished second to surging social conservative Mike Huckabee. This time Romney's approach is gradual and includes keeping in touch with past supporters and targeting voters focused most on economic issues.

Romney's team sees an opening in January's Republican caucuses given that influential evangelicals haven't rallied around any one candidate.

Romney is scheduled to return to Iowa next week and is planning a conference call with thousands of GOP activists in coming days.