Mitt Romney was reportedly planning to skip the Iowa Caucuses in next year's campaign. That may change now that Rick Perry is planning to jump into the 2012 race.
The Washington Examiner reports those with familiarity of Romney's campaign say Perry changes his equation.
"If Perry runs an economically focused campaign, that is a huge threat to Romney," said Doug Gross, the chairman of Romney's 2008 Iowa campaign who stays in touch with the candidate's current Iowa operation. "He can't afford to let Perry catch fire here [in Iowa] at all."
Perry, who is aggressively flirting with a presidential run, has a strong economic record as governor of Texas and a clear advantage over Romney with religious conservatives.
Without Perry in the picture, Romney had hoped to spend a minimal amount of time and money in Iowa, where his operatives have been primarily focused on retaining supporters from his 2008 campaign, rather than recruiting new voters.
Under that scenario, aides hoped that Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann would win the Iowa caucus -- better yet, she would win by a large enough margin over former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to knock him out of the race.
The Romney campaign clearly does not feel threatened by Bachmann, partly because she appeals to a different voter base than the one he is targeting.
But Perry could appeal to voters in both candidates' camps. "It is an open question as to how much more aggressive the campaign gets in Iowa," said David Kochel, Romney's chief Iowa strategist.
Romney won't have to rethink his competitive strategy in Iowa if Perry launches a faith-based campaign, officials said. But if Perry steps on Romney's economic turf, Romney may be heading to Iowa sooner than he expected.