Caucus location confusion, push polling add urgency, excitement to Romney HQ

URBANDALE, Iowa — Last-minute precinct changes, push polls and an overwhelming sense of urgency have added to a palpable sense of excitement at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) Iowa headquarters.

Gentry Collins, Romney’s state director, said the campaign is hustling to call identified supporters of the former governor and make sure they know where to caucus.

Push polls from rival campaigns and outside groups, coupled with “poor planning” from the state GOP, have made that job more difficult in recent days, Collins said in an interview with The Hill.

The push polls are telling voters the wrong caucus locations, and the state party changed 17 locations on Dec. 27, further confusing some would-be caucus-goers.

Collins said the campaign is hustling to correct that bad information for supporters, going door to door in some cases and planning to stand outside of caucus locations Thursday night. But, Collins said, the change in locations came at a bad time.

“The bottom line is you can’t undo that once it’s out there,” he said.

The headquarters is a hive of energy as Romney looks to capitalize on what has long been regarded as an organization vastly superior to that of his chief rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R).

But Collins disputed the conventional wisdom that Huckabee lacks a traditional organization in Iowa, an idea Huckabee has pushed at every stop. Collins noted that outside groups like TrustHuckabee have been active in the state on Huckabee’s behalf.

Romney supporters and campaign aides appear aggravated that Huckabee has been able to project the notion that he is running a positive campaign.

“The fact of the matter is that’s garbage,” Collins said. “That’s not true.”

At headquarters, volunteers and aides were burning up the phones Thursday morning. Collins said the get-out-the-vote effort is focused on identified supporters, but some effort is being made to deliver a final pitch to the “handful” of undecided voters.

Josh Romney, one of the former governor’s five sons, was at the campaign office this morning rallying the troops and doing press interviews.

Josh Romney said he and his brothers would fan out to caucus events Thursday night, and they are hoping “to come out with a gold or a silver here.”

Republican strategist and Romney adviser Bay Buchanan told The Hill that Romney will be in good shape with a win or a “strong second” going into New Hampshire, which holds its primary just five days after the dust settles in Iowa.

“There’s time to recover,” Buchanan said of a second place finish. “Gov. Romney is the only candidate running a multi-state campaign.”

Romney and most of the other candidates are scheduled to fly to New Hampshire Thursday night.