Iowa could decide Romney's top competition

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Who says Iowa is irrelevant in the GOP presidential nomination fight?

Rep. Michele Bachmann's entry in the 2012 race ensures that the spotlight will shine bright on the leadoff caucus state. Bachmann will go head-to-head with another Minnesotan, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who calls Iowa a state he must win or at least do very well in.

Iowa also is fertile ground for the latest Republican to say he's considering running -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a tax-cutting social conservative also liked by the tea party.

Iowa's prominence was in doubt just a week ago.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Utah's former governor, Jon Huntsman, are downplaying Iowa. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's once-promising Iowa presence turned doubtful after his Iowa campaign staff quit.