By Wolf Blitzer, CNN
(CNN) – I’m just back from a couple days in Iowa, where I had a chance to sit down with Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. I also spoke with Iowans who are planning on attending Tuesday night’s caucuses. Here are some impressions:
Romney is confident about his chances of winning in Iowa and then in New Hampshire. His campaign’s internal polling is looking good. He’s getting nice crowds on his Iowa bus tour. Things seem to be moving in the right direction for his campaign.
Gingrich is in trouble. My own sense is that he made a major mistake in not hitting right back when the bombardment of attacks ads against him began. He tried to take the high road; that clearly has not worked. The truth remains the same: Campaigns engage in negative attacks because they work. Gingrich is the most recent victim.
Santorum has worked really hard in Iowa. Even though he maintains that he always thought his campaign would eventually get on track, I suspect even he’s surprised by how well he’s doing right now in Iowa, according to our latest CNN/Time/ORC poll. It seems much of the support lost by Gingrich in recent weeks has moved over to Santorum.
All three of these candidates, by the way, had only nasty things to say about the other front-runner in the race, Ron Paul. They are all deeply worried about his positions on national security issues.
Gingrich was the toughest on Paul, suggesting he could not vote for the Texas congressman if he were to get the GOP nomination. Romney and Santorum said they could vote for him even though they strongly disagree with so many of his positions.
As far as Iowans are concerned, many of the most ardent Republican caucus-goers told me they are still open to changing their minds. They have preferences, but they have not cemented their decision.
All of which means we could be in for some more political turbulence in the coming days.
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