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The final push: Romney's 770-mile Iowa sprint

 

MASON CITY, IOWA-- Mitt Romney's campaign schedule for the final four days of his Iowa campaign turns an old axiom on its head.

While veterans of recent bus tours by Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry likely won't be impressed, with 10 stops in three-and-a-half days, and some 770 miles of driving between them, the final stretch amounts to both a both a marathon and a sprint for the Romney campaign.

Touching down Saturday afternoon after a roughly 24-hour New Hampshire detour, Romney will criss-cross Iowa one last time -- putting roughly enough miles on his bus to get from Boston to Columbus, Ohio -- and hitting towns and counties which largely supported him four years ago.

On Saturday, Romney will make two stops in Northwest Iowa -- in Le Mars and Sioux City -- both of which are in counties Romney carried in 2008. Sunday morning, Romney visits Atlantic Iowa, in a county he lost to Mike Huckabee by 6 percentage points. Council Bluffs, where Romney will hold an afternoon rally, is Iowa's second-largest county, and Romney carried it by 11 points in 2008.

Overnight Sunday and into Monday, Romney will travel across the state to campaign in Dubuque and Davenport, on the state's Eastern border -- more friendly territory for Romney. Romney won Davenport's Scott County by 11 points, and Dubuque county by a whopping 23 points.

Monday afternoon the campaign works it's way to Cedar Rapids, where Romney pulled off a 5-point win four years ago, then terminates in Des Moines for events Monday night and Tuesday. It is there, in Polk County, which Romney lost by 13 points last cycle, where Romney will host his final rally and caucus-night event.

In what some see as a sign of the campaign -- and the candidate's -- confidence of a win or a very close second-place finish in Iowa, Romney will overnight in Des Moines, and conduct morning-show interviews there Wednesday -- rather than go straight to New Hampshire.

The campaign's explanation for staying the night? Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney senior adviser, told NBC's Andrea Mitchell today simply, "We want a well-rested candidate."

Ferhnstrom added Romney will leave for New Hampshire Wednesday -- at a "more sensible hour."