Former Massachusetts’s governor Mitt Romney tried to lower expectations ahead of Tuesday evening's Republican caucuses as Senator Rick Santorum looks set to win Minnesota - a state Romney carried four years ago.
Romney's campaign circulated a memo emphasizing delegates were not bound by primaries in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. It also noted that John McCain lost 19 states in his successful run for the nomination in 2008.
"Speaker Gingrich’s and Senator Santorum’s campaigns have resource challenges. The remaining February states may not be kind to them, and their hopes for a comeback in March may be very difficult and based on an incomplete understanding of the delegate selection rules," the memo read.
"Even 'success' in a few states will not mean collecting enough delegates to win the nomination," the memo read. "In contrast, Governor Romney will be competing across the country and collecting delegates in state after state, even if other candidates pick up some wins."
"This is exactly the sort of methodical, long-haul campaign we planned for, and we are well on the way to victory," it added.
A senior campaign official claimed the remaining contests scheduled for February and March all favor point toward Romney being able to gain momentum and cement his status as the campaign's frontrunner. This morning's memo from political director Rich Beeson closed by underscoring that same point.
Nonetheless, the well-funded Romney has not been setting the rhetorical agenda for the Republican race and has been dealt stinging defeats that have forced him to adapt both his campaign and positions.
The underfunded Santorum defeated Romney in Iowa by a narrow 8 vote margin, while Gingrich handed him an embarrassing 10 point defeat in South Carolina.
Romney was forced to abandon his 'don't upset the applecart' campaign that some pundits had described as "be the least objectionable candidate with the best haircut" in favor of a combative posture.
He has also been forced to depart from his often ambiguous social platform and take strong positions on issues important to conservative voters to compete for their votes.
While fighting for conservative votes in Colorado, Romney accused President Obama of waging an "assault on religion," for his position on ministerial exemptions, and on the ongoing battle between the administration and the Catholic church over a new health care mandate.
"Just in the last several days the administration has said, under Obamacare, that religious organizations like schools, catholic schools, catholic hospitals and so forth have to provide for free contraceptives and free morning after pills, abortive pills, for all of their employees in violation of the religious conscience of those organizations," Romney said.
He then vowed, "This kind of assault on religion will end if I’m president of the United States."