Where is the Love?

Mitt Romney is a better candidate than in 2008. So why can't he make Republican hearts flutter?

Brooks Kraft for TIME

With Iowa's caucuses looming, Romney remains a second choice among many GOP faithful.

Among the hallowed traditions of latter-day presidential politics is the full-body agripander in the Iowa cornfields. Every four years, the local populace demands obeisance to extravagant crop and ethanol subsidies, and the presidential hopefuls inevitably respond with paeans to the family farm and renewable energy--even though such subsidies have long been shown to be boondoggles of the highest order.

And so I was interested to see how Mitt Romney would respond to a roomful of western-Iowa business folks in the thriving town of Treynor recently. In similar circumstances four years ago, Romney's agripandering had been effulgent and shameless. This time was...

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