Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is scheduled to travel to Iowa next week to campaign for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the state where voting in the party’s nomination race starts on Jan. 3.
The trip by Christie offers the latest sign that Romney is ramping up efforts to more aggressively compete in the Iowa caucuses as former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is getting a second look from the state’s Republican activists.
Christie is to appear on Romney’s behalf on Dec. 7, according to a Romney campaign official who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the event. No details of Christie’s Iowa stop were available.
Romney gained Christie’s endorsement on Oct. 11, just hours before a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire sponsored by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post. Christie’s backing came a few days after he announced he wouldn’t undertake his own presidential bid, dashing the hopes of some Republican leaders and donors who had sought an alternative to Romney and the party’s other candidates.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and business executive, signaled during most of this year that he wouldn’t make an all-out push to win the caucuses. He has visited Iowa just five times this year. His most recent campaign foray in the state was Nov. 23, after he skipped a Nov. 19 forum in Des Moines that was sponsored by socially conservative groups and drew 3,000 people.
A Bloomberg News poll conducted in Iowa Nov. 10-12 showed Romney in a statistical tie in the state with businessman Herman Cain, U.S. Representative Ron Paul and Gingrich. Since then, Gingrich has gained in national polls of the Republican race, as Cain has fallen amid allegations that he engaged in sexual harassment and an extramarital affair with an Atlanta woman.
Gingrich is campaigning in Iowa today.
In Romney’s presidential bid four years ago, social conservatives in Iowa balked at his past support of abortion rights and the Massachusetts health-care law he signed into law. Romney finished second to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the caucuses, helping derail his 2008 bid.
If Romney were to win the 2012 caucuses, followed by a victory in the New Hampshire primary a week later, it would put him in a strong position to win the party’s nomination. Romney, who owns property in New Hampshire and is well-known from governing a neighboring state, has led polls in that state all year.
--Editors: Don Frederick, Jim Rubin.
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