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Romney's Iowa Gain Turns to Loss

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) scored something of a coup last month in the 2008 talent competition when he signed on Matt Elliott -- an Iowa Republican operative -- as a consultant to his Commonwealth PAC last month.

Mitt Romney is giving up the governor's mansion for the presidential campaign trail. (AP File Photo)

Prior to joining Romney's world, Elliott was the director of the Iowa GOP's legislative campaign operation -- a not insignificant job given the 25-25 split in the state Senate and Republicans' narrow 51-49 edge in the state House.

Romney's boost was short-lived, however, as Elliott is severing ties to Commonwealth PAC to make a bid for the state House, according to an informed Republican strategist. A call to Elliott's cell phone today wasn't returned (this post will be updated if I hear back).

Elliott's arrival and departure illustrate the level of behind-the-scenes jockeying for staffers in the key early voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina) among the 2008 presidential aspirants.

Romney, who will leave office at the end of this year after a single term, has been perhaps the most active in this most insider of games.  Through Commonwealth PAC he has sprinkled donations throughout the early caucus and primary states and kept an active travel schedule as he begins to build a national profile.

Romney has also been making moves within his inner circle as he recently parted ways with Mike Murphy, the media consultant who had been a senior strategist during Romney's 2002 gubernatorial race. Trent Wisecup, a member of Murphy's firm, will take a leave in the spring to manage Commonwealth PAC's activities full-time.

Expect Romney's political activities to pick up even more as he nears the end of his time as Massachusetts's chief executive.  Make no mistake: He is running for president.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 2, 2006; 1:34 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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