Mitt Romney is planning a campaign stop Sunday in Bucks County, the latest sign amid tightening polls that Republicans see a chance to seize Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes in the waning days of the presidential race.
He is holding a 5:15 p.m. rally at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, his campaign announced late Thursday.
Pennsylvania, which Democrats have carried in the last five presidential votes, had long been considered safe for President Obama, with none of the advertising volume or candidate rallies seen in the nine most contested states.
But the picture has evolved in recent days. Word of the late addition to Romney’s schedule – as well as running mate Paul Ryan’s planned Saturday stop in Harrisburg – came as the Republican National Committee bought about $3 million worth of broadcast TV time in the state, according to media buyers. Earlier in the week, GOP groups and the Romney campaign invested millions in Pennsylvania air time, and the Obama campaign countered with at least $1.6 million of its own.
Democrats also are planning to bring former President Bill Clinton, who has emerged as Obama’s leading surrogate, to Pennsylvania before Tuesday’s vote.
Romney super PAC allies Restore Our Future, Americans for Job Security, American Crossroads (headed by George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove), the American Future Fund (associated with former Sen. Rick Santorum), and Americans for Prosperity are running ads in Pennsylvania. Along with the Romney campaign’s $1 million, the GOP has invested at least $11 million in the state.
Depending on who is talking, the GOP moves represent a contingency in case Ohio or other key states slip away from Romney, or an audacious grab for more electoral votes amid a surge toward the Republican nominee, or just a matter of the well-funded GOP super PACs and Romney campaign having enough cash left to try to create opportunities.
State Republican sources say their internal polls suggest the race could go either way. The latest independent poll, released Wednesday by Franklin and Marshall College, gave Obama a 4-point lead, down from 11 a month go.
Republicans have also put money into Minnesota and Michigan, and the Democrats have countered.
Obama aides argue Romney’s Pennsylvania moves are desperate because New York Times/Quinnipiac University polls this week had the president ahead in Ohio, Florida and Virginia. “There is no Romney momentum in the battleground states,” campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters. “There’s only smoke and mirrors.”
Since Pennsylvania does not allow early voting, it “became a very interesting place for us to go in late,” Romney political director Rich Beeson said. “Pennsylvania is a place that we decided to wade into as a path to 300 electoral votes.”
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