He also said he thinks he'd have a good shot at winning Massachusetts, a heavily Democratic state where he was once governor, The Des Moines Register reported.
"If I'm effective about communicating my message about growing the economy and creating jobs, then I'll be able to pick up a lot of states where the economy is in trouble," Romney said Thursday during a three-city campaign tour in Iowa.
He said he's hopeful about winning Michigan "because of my dad's reputation and my long affection for the auto industry and for the state."
His late father, George W. Romney, was an auto industry executive and Michigan governor.
"I haven't lived in Michigan since I was 19 years old, but it's still the place of my birth and upbringing and a place where my dad's reputation will be better than mine ever is," he said.
Romney conceded polls suggest Massachusetts would be an "uphill climb" but added, "I might just make a real effort in Massachusetts."
Meanwhile, some conservatives in Iowa complain Romney has been snubbing them, The Hill reported.
"We've done everything we can to reach out to the campaign and they've largely ignored us," said Steve Scheffler, a prominent socially conservative Iowa activist and head of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.
The group is hosting a forum Saturday with more than 800 people expected. Most Republican candidates have said they'll attend, but Romney has not.
"If he's the nominee and the election's close -- and let's face it, it's going to be close -- and he won't be here and engaged with people, it'll be more challenging for him to get people to go door to door and make phone calls," Scheffler said.
The Hill said Romney's campaign did not respond to requests for comment but has tried to downplay expectations in Iowa.