Republicans question Iowa's key role in presidential primaries

“If you want your campaign to be defined entirely on social issues, start your campaign in Iowa because that’s what you’re going to spend most of your time talking about,” said Katie Packer Gage, a strategist for Romney’s 2012 campaign, who is leading an effort to broaden the GOP’s appeal among women. “I’m pro-life and work for pro-life candidates, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a winning strategy for the party for that to be the core message we’re campaigning on day in, day out. We need a broader message to win elections.”
Scott Reed, who managed Republican Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and is now a senior campaign strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said he, too, would counsel GOP candidates to carefully consider whether to compete in Iowa. (Dole won the caucuses both times he ran for president, in 1988 and 1996.)
A key test, Reed said, will be this year’s campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat. “All eyes will be on whether [Iowa Republicans] can pick a candidate who wins in the fall and not just check ideological boxes,” Reed said.
Caucus veterans have heard it all — or at least a variation — before. Any time a party loses the White House, the blame-laying focuses on its message, which some deem too extreme, and the process, which critics call unrepresentative, said David Yepsen, who covered numerous caucus campaigns for the Des Moines Register and now teaches at Southern Illinois University. “That said,” he added, “both parties in Iowa are sensitive to the criticism and have taken steps every four years to make it a little better.”