Hurricane Sandy may have brought gale force winds to Pennsylvania this week, but the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are about to make it rain television ads all over the commonwealth.
Both campaigns and supporting Super PACs will begin inundating the Keystone State with last-minute television advertising Wednesday. And the ads will only build in intensity as Election Day approaches.
While the eleventh hour offensive is more likely an attempt by Romney to divert Obama resources from more competitive battleground states such as Ohio and Florida, the television war will be reminiscent of elections past when Pennsylvania was central to any presidential campaign’s winning strategy.
The most recent buy was made today with the Romney campaign purchasing $120,000 of advertising to air the day before and day of the Nov. 6 election, according to various reports.
Although it is believed the Romney buy will target the voter-rich Philadelphia metropolitan area, an official with Romney’s Pennsylvania campaign said the scope and duration of the buy has been under-reported.
“It’s more than that and longer than that,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Monday, the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future announced a $2 million purchase targeting the commonwealth.
And Crossroads, another Romney-backing Super PAC, also purchased about $600,000 worth of Pennsylvania airtime targeting several areas including the Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York television market. Crossroads’ ads begin Wednesday and will air through Friday.
The Obama campaign countered the GOP TV blitz with a $650,000 purchase of it’s own for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that began today. And Obama supporters ridiculed Romney’s late attention to a Democrat-leaning state both campaigns have largely ignored.
“Let’s be very clear, the Romney campaign and its allies decision to go up with advertising in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota is a decision made out of weakness, not strength,” Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina said today in a statement.
When the Romney-supportive ad buys began Monday, Messina said his campaign was taking nothing for granted. But he added that Romney was “pretending he’s got a shot in states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota,” with his last-minute television onslaught in the state.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell, who has been critical of Obama’s campaign strategy at times, released a firm statement Tuesday declaring the president would carry the state, and belittling Romney’s belated attention as a desperate dilatory gambit.
“Mitt Romney ignored Pennsylvania over the course of the last two years, and didn’t ask Pennsylvanians for their vote,” said Rendell, a former Democratic National Committee chairman. “A week of advertising won’t change that.”
But with the election’s climactic winds seemingly at Romney’s back, Republican forces say the Democrats’ protestations are evidence of a flagging campaign in the commonwealth.
“With one week to go, and 96 percent of the vote on the table on Election Day in Pennsylvania, this expansion of the electoral map demonstrates that Governor Romney’s momentum has jumped containment from the usual target states and has spread to deeper blue states that [Obama’s campaign] never anticipated defending,”Romney Political Director Rich Beeson wrote in a memo to supporters Tuesday.
Beeson added that the state represents a “unique opportunity” given it’s increasingly conservative voting tendency, particularly in the coal-focused, traditional Democratic stronghold of the state’s southwest.
“This makes Pennsylvania a natural next step as we expand the playing field,” he said in the memo.