SALT LAKE CITY — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking a new approach to hammering Pres. Barack Obama and campaigning in Iowa.

Romney seems to be choosing his words more carefully as he verbally attacks Obama, Politico concludes in an article published Thursday. The piece compares a Romney campaign stop in Pennsylvania last month with his visit Wednesday to Southern California.

"Romney spoke Wednesday in front of a long-defunct mall near Los Angeles, and repeatedly pointed out that the mall's closure wasn't entirely Obama's fault. 'Obviously, the challenges here are not all the result of the current administration,' Romney said, waving at the building behind him.

"It's a shift from a similar appearance he made last month in Allentown, Pa., when he laid blame for a shuttered factory squarely at President Obama's feet — and the newly careful language illustrates how delicately Romney has to tread even with his campaign's central message, the charge that Obama has mishandled the economy."

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that, in Iowa, Romney isn't pouring resources into the Ames Straw Poll like 2007 — but the campaign isn't altogether abandoning Iowa, either.

"(Romney) spent more than $1 million on the (2007 Ames Straw Poll), hiring a fleet of buses to transport thousands of supporters to the Iowa State University campus, paying their $35 entry fees, sheltering them from triple-digit heat in a cavernous tent complete with flat-screen TVs, and feeding them Hickory Park barbeque, a local favorite. …

"This time, Romney has been so low-key publicly in Iowa that many have suggested he is writing off the state altogether — though his campaign has never gone that far; there are growing signs of an under-the-radar effort to bolster his presence."

"Shadow Campaign: Mitt Romney's Iowa Playbook" is the Friday headline of an ABC News blog post that echoes the Times's analysis.

"His footprint is light — his only visit to the state this year was before he officially announced his presidential campaign — but he's not ignoring the crucial first caucus state, despite tamping down expectations."

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