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Romney met by Occupy protesters at Iowa rally

January 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The first real test of the 2012 race for president will be Tuesday and Republican contenders are scrambling for last-minute votes.

In Clive, Iowa, on Monday night, Occupy protesters made their first appearance at a Mitt Romney rally.

As Romney talked about what he would do with the economy, protesters began chanting, "Stop the war on the poor."

Romney was put off, but handled it by saying protesters voicing their opinion is what makes America great.

As soon as that was said, Ron Paul supporters showed they had managed to sneak signs into the room.

Romney was still in the lead Monday. For the first time, he all but said he expects to be victorious Tuesday.

Romney kept up his attacks on President Barack Obama, the man he called "The Great Complainer."

"This has been a failed presidency," Romney said. "I remember after he was inaugurated, he went on the 'Today' show and he said, 'If I can't get this economy to turn around in three years, well I'll be looking at a one-term proposition.' I'm here to collect."

The surprise candidate is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who moved up enough in Iowa polls to be a serious threat.

Santorum is in position to finish in the top three. He has a lot of support from evangelicals who make up 60 percent of Iowa's voters.

"If you want someone who's always looking at what the next opportunity is, you don't want a president like Rick Santorum," he told a crowd in Altoona. "I'm going to stand up for what I believe in, whether the winds are for you or the winds are against you."

Ron Paul is still in the top three candidates in the Iowa caucus. He has had some big crowds, like the one Monday in Des Moines, where he called his opponents part of the status quo.

"What they talk about cuts, you know they're not talking about cuts. They're talking about taking around the edges and nibbling away at the proposed increases," he said. "What we're talking about are real cuts and the shrinking of the size of the federal government."

Asked Monday if he sees himself in the White House, Paul replied, "Not really."