Mitt Romney said Saturday he doesn’t see a need to take any special steps to unite conservatives behind his presidential bid, saying he already holds “conservative Republican principles,” and said he abides by the wisdom of cartoon character Popeye about being himself.

“I’m not going to veer to the left or veer to the right or jump to the middle. As Popeye used to say, ‘I am what I am and that’s all what I am,’ ” he told The Washington Times in an interview. “I do believe that my principles are conservative Republican principles, conservative American principles, and I think by continuing to refer to the blueprint of America, the Constitution of America, and the course laid out by the founders that conservative Republicans as well as independents and Democrats will come to my support.”

The former Massachusetts governor holds a substantial lead in the polls here in the Granite State, where the GOP presidential field is gearing up for back-to-back debates Saturday and Sunday ahead of Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary, which will set the tone for the nomination contests in South Carolina on Jan. 21 and Florida on Jan. 31.

Mr. Romney won Iowa’s caucuses on Tuesday, though he claimed fewer votes this time than he got in his second-place showing there in 2008, further feeding the storyline that conservatives are eager to find an alternative to him. Mr. Romney’s team argues he put less effort into the state this year and his two performances show a steady base of support, but former Sen. Rick Santorum’s surge to a near-win in Iowa and his rise in the polls could give voters a rallying point.

Mr. Romney said the book he wrote two years ago explores his stands on important issues, and he said he’ll remain consistent to what he laid out there.

Continue reading →