Romney, GOP suddenly plunging onto Democratic turf
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mitt Romney is suddenly plunging into traditionally Democratic-leaning Minnesota and Pennsylvania, and his GOP allies are trying to put Michigan into play. It’s forcing President Barack Obama to defend his own turf — he’s pouring money into television ads in the states and dispatching top backers — in the campaign’s final week.
The question is: Why this Republican move?
GOP efforts in the trio of Rust Belt states could indicate that Romney is desperately searching for a last-minute path to the needed 270 Electoral College votes — without all-important Ohio. Or just the opposite, that he’s so confident in the most competitive battlegrounds that he’s pressing for insurance against Obama in what’s expected to be a close race.
Or perhaps the Republican simply has money to burn. Use it now or never.
Former President Bill Clinton was dispatched in response on Tuesday. “Barack Obama’s policies work better,” he declared on the University of Minnesota campus, one of his two stops in a state that offers 10 electoral votes and hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1972.
This late-game expansion of a campaign playing field that, until now, had focused on just nine states was taking place exactly a week from Election Day. At the same time, Obama spent a second day in Washington to focus on his presidential duties and Romney edged back into active campaigning in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
“This is a tough time for millions of people ... but America is tougher,” the president said during a brief visit to the American Red Cross, where he sought to reassure victims, encourage aid workers — and warn of more storm damage to come with rising floodwater.
In Ohio, Romney, too, spoke of concern for storm victims, telling supporters who were collecting supplies that “a lot of people hurting this morning.”
Beyond the candidates’ pause from feverish campaigning, the impact of the storm on the election wasn’t all that clear.
National polls show an even race for the popular vote, though Obama appears to have both an edge in key battleground states in the electoral vote hunt and more state-by-state pathways to reach the 270-vote threshold.
Of the nine states where the two men have spent more than $1 billion in advertising since June, Romney is in the strongest position in North Carolina. But public and internal campaign polls show he’s locked in stubbornly tight battles in Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia and is fighting to overtake Obama’s advantage in crucial Ohio as well as Iowa and Wisconsin.
That said, Romney still could win. Anything can happen in the race’s closing days — including Democratic-leaning states like Minnesota, Pennsylvania or Michigan going Republican.
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