State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in New Jersey, said the former Massachusetts governor’s first place finish in an Iowa straw poll this weekend indicates that breadbasket voters are starting to get to know Romney.
"I think he’s attractive to GOP primary voters, but he doesn’t have a lot of name recognition," said Kyrillos, reiterating his longstanding belief that Romney will surge in places where voters see him up close. "It will take a number of months, but I do think he is doing very well in Iowa and New Hampshire because he’s spending time and resources there."
According to the Associated Press, Romney scored 4,516 votes, or 31.5 percent, to beat former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who had 2,587 votes, or 18.1 percent, and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, third with 2,192 votes or 15.3 percent.
Notably absent in the straw poll were former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain.
"Not enough has been made of the fact that neither John McCain nor Rudy Giuliani competed," said Kyrillos, who believes those candidates saw a Romney victory on the horizon and subsequently bailed out of the contest, making the end result even stronger for Romney.
Kyrillos acknowledged that New Jersey is a strong Giuliani state, for obvious reasons. Romney doesn’t have deep name recognition here, and hasn’t expended time or resources in the Garden State. But once he gains in other key contests, that could change.