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Mitt Romney may be ramping up his efforts in Iowa with just a few days to go before the caucuses, but New Hampshire remains his firewall state, as E.J. Dionne explains in his new column, “Romney And Art Of Unpredictable Predictability”:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — No matter what happens in Iowa, Mitt Romney has a safety net in New Hampshire.

And that could rank as the year’s most perilous sentence. Why shouldn’t Romney be surprised in the state that temporarily derailed Barack Obama’s supposedly rapid march toward nomination four years ago? Hillary Clinton humbled many a pundit here in 2008, reason enough to challenge the rapidly jelling conventional wisdom about the Republican presidential campaign.

In just a few weeks, Romney has been transformed from an embattled and weak front-runner into the real thing. He has a chance of winning the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 as his dazed opponents scratch at each other trying to emerge as the leading non-Romney. Libertarian Ron Paul, who will never be nominated, now looks to be Romney’s main competition in Iowa. Paul is doing a fine job as Romney’s blocking back, preventing anyone else from emerging early enough to give Romney a stiff race.

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