MARION, Iowa—Appearing before a jubilant crowd at a rally here, Mitt Romney appeared to predict a victory in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses—surprising his own advisers in the process.
"We're going to win this thing with all of our passion and strength and do everything we can to get this campaign on the right track to go across the nation and pick up other states, to get the ballots I need, the votes I need, to become our nominee," Romney said.
The statement, delivered in the final moments of a rally in a city that Romney overwhelmingly won back in 2008, took his campaign advisers by surprise.
Asked about the quote by a reporter, David Kochel, Romney's top Iowa strategist, immediately turned to Stuart Stevens, Romney's chief political strategist, and said, "Did you hear that? Our guy said we're going to win Iowa."
His campaign advisers immediately tried to walk back the statement, insisting on background that Romney was referring to the general nomination battle, not Iowa. But they declined to dispute his remarks on the record.
While Romney has expressed confidence about his chances Tuesday, it's the first time he's bluntly suggested he would win Iowa, a state he has not focused his campaign on until recently. He and his advisers have repeatedly insisted the contest Tuesday remains up for grabs and that the campaign would be happy with a top three finish.
"This nomination isn't going to be decided by a single contest in Iowa," Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's senior adviser, told reporters earlier Monday. "The primary is actually a series of contests. We are going to win some of those contests and were are going to do less well in others, but at the end of the day we think we will have the requisite number of delegates to be the nominee."
Other popular Yahoo! News stories:
Handy with a camera? Join our Election 2012 Flickr group to submit your photos of the campaign in action.