Updated at 2:11 p.m.
Minneapolis mayor and DNC vice chair R.T. Rybak is launching a full-court press against GOP presidential candidates in Iowa this week ahead of next Tuesday's caucuses.
Kicking off a two-day media blitz, Rybak appeared on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" shortly after noon Thursday from what looked to be a coffee shop in Des Moines.
He trained his sights squarely on Mitt Romney.
"I think right now we see a primary that is very much Mitt Romney's to lose," Rybak said, adding that anything short of victory proves Romney can't win broader national support. (Others contend that Iowa's results hold relatively little weight in the final contest -- such as Mike Huckabee's 2008 win).
"He said today that anything but a first-place finish would be a loss," Rybak said. "And after spending five years and many many millions of dollars here, and still not being able to win the hearts and minds of Iowans, if he can squeak through, that may be a victory. But anything less than that, boy, will certainly say that Mitt Romney can't win the heart of the Republicans or really America."
Rybak argued that while Romney has tried to dampen expectations, his campaign and "surrogates" have spent millions to win the state. "The fact of the matter is he has not been able to connect with voters," Rybak said.
A Democratic official explained in an e-mail that Rybak will be in Iowa Thursday and Friday to rebut GOP candidates who are campaigning around the state. He will hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon, in addition to a pen and pad on Friday and a number of local/national cable interviews.
One of his key talking points will be that Romney is heavily invested in winning Iowa, despite downplaying expectations on the campaign trail.
(Photo by David Denney: Rybak in Iowa earlier this month.)