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No wrinkles for Romney as Iowa caucuses launch intensified stage of GOP campaign

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Technician Richie Beanan irons the U.S. flag on stage in anticipation to a rally with supporters on Iowa caucus night for Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the Hotel Fort Des Moines Jan. 3, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa. Candidates made a final push to try and sway voters as Iowans took part in the first caucus of the 2012 presidential election.

Msnbc.com reports: The 2012 Republican presidential nominee won't be crowned Tuesday in Iowa. But when Iowans show up this evening for the state's caucuses — the first nominating contest of the 2012 GOP primary — they'll be setting the parameters for a campaign that, after months of anticipation, is only beginning in earnest.

The latest polls, one released as recently as Saturday, have made clear that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum compose the top tier of candidates vying for a win Tuesday night in Iowa.

Dave Weaver / AP

Chris Kreger and John Carr talk outside a caucus Tuesday Jan 3, 2012 at precinct 42 near Smithland, Iowa.

Jonathan Gibby / Getty Images

A young boy prepares to leave school before the arrival of voters at the Waukee Precinct 4 GOP Caucus held at Walnut Hills Elementary School Jan. 3, 2012 in Urbandale, Iowa. After months of campaigning by candidates, Iowan voters throughout the state prepare to participate in the first caucus of the 2012 presidential election.

Jeff Haynes / Reuters

A Gingrich caucus worker looks on as Iowa caucus goers arrive and sign in for the caucus at the UNI Dome on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa, Jan. 3, 2012.

The latest polls show former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are leading the race in Iowa. But as the caucus race draws to a close, the rhetoric is escalating. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.