From NBC/NJ's Erin McPike
GLEN ELLYN, Ill. -- Romney is fired up and charging ahead with his delegate pick-up strategy, despite polling in states that he thinks are good territory for him increasingly showing McCain in the lead.
Asked in a session with reporters why he was campaigning in Illinois now that he's 20 points behind the Arizona senator, he came back with a look like he knew something no one else did and said, "Ahh, because I think I'm gonna get delegates."
Given the opportunity to attack McCain, he piled on. His opening remarks to reporters here after a rally included that he "was impressed that yesterday Barack Obama said that Sen. McCain's position on illegal immigration was virtually indistinguishable from his." And he went on to reiterate as he's done over the past few days that he'd be the choice more in line with the GOP's views.
During the rally, Romney - who inadvertently added to his stump a call-and-response in Michigan about things Washington politicians (code: McCain) have promised that returns a "They haven't!" from the crowd - threw in another set here today. He asked the crowd if they wanted their party to be led by a man - McCain - who has supported a handful of measures he says are backed by Democrats and was met with a series of resounding "No!"s by the audience.
The several hundred energetic supporters there even booed Obama at a mention of him as "a certain senator from this state who says he'd bring change to America."
Like Obama, McCain will also spend time in Massachusetts before Tuesday and is there today, but Romney said of the elder senator that he's just not sure why he's campaigning there. He added that he expects he'll win the Bay State and almost scolded McCain for trying: "For me, this is not about trying to tweak somebody or get in their head." And later on the plane he said, "I don't try to psychoanalyze my competition."
But Romney did take one pass on attacking McCain - when asked if he had any comments about charges reported by the New York Times of an improper relationship between the senator and lobbyist, Romney said only: "I have no information about that whatsoever and so don't have any comment on it. Not familiar with the circumstances at all."
One other thing Romney didn't have a whole heck of a lot to say about to reporters? The Super Bowl, in which his hometown Patriots are playing tonight. He was ambushed by reporters later on the plane and said, "This could be close, and I don't like close games." He said he hoped for a blowout but said he probably wouldn't be calling Sen. Clinton if the Giants won. He said he had anticipated a bet with Giuliani but that they never got around to it.
He also clarified something he had said earlier about Tom Brady - that he e-mailed a good luck note to the football star yesterday. He said Brady returned the wishes, and then asked how Romney got the address, the more light-hearted candidate joked with reporters and laughed, "I have everyone's e-mail address."