GOP-Race Just Heating Up In Pennsylvania

Allentown Morning Call

Republicans continued their push back against the ‘Pennsylvania isn’t play’ narrative, maintaining that the race will pick up in the state later than others because its not an early voting state.

Rick Wiley, the RNC’s political director, said about 95 percent of Pennsylvania voters cast their ballot on Election Day while in other states like North Carolina people are beginning to vote now so the campaign is heavily targeting them. (The LA Times’ Paul West has a great story today about early voting outreach.)

“It’s one of those states you don’t have to spend the time early…that plays a lot into the travel schedule,” he told The Morning Call.

And John Gibson, the campaign manager for the Mitt Romneycampaign in Pennsylvania, said to “definitely” expect visits from Romney and running mate Paul Ryan to pick up in the final weeks. The last visit by either was just over a month ago from Ryan in West Chester.

Neither campaign operative would comment on whether the state’stelevision stations could breathe a sigh of relief that the millions they expected from campaign commercials would begin pouring in as well. Currently the campaigns aren’t spending the big bucks in Pennsylvania.

But they dismissed the notion that the money isn’t coming because President Barack Obama has the state locked in his win column. Gibson stressed that Boston is investing in Pennsylvania.

“I think with over 65 staff on the ground, paid mail across the state, it’d be easy to cut that stuff back if you didn’t think it was in play,” he said. “That is a structure budget…I think with voter contact we are putting money in the state and making smart decisions.”

Wiley and Gibson boasted that the campaign hit a milestone Saturday, knocking on more doors and calling more voters in Pennsylvania than George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008 combined over their entire cycles.

The effort now in Pennsylvania, Wiley said, is to continue identifying who in the small slice of undecided voters are leaning Romney. If they are truly on the fence they continue to circle back with advocacy messaging. Then if they commit to vote for Romney they’re moved to a different list: the voters that must be turned out on Election Day.

They are eager to override stories like this one published in The New York Times today that repeated a refrain previously reported by The Gray Lady: “The Romney campaign effectively conceded the state.”

The state remains in wait and see mode. The Romney team is putting an offensive infrastructure in place, hoping to force Obama to play a little defense while biding its time in the event of an opening.

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