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Romney's Pennsylvania reach foreshadows election outcome

 

MORRISVILLE, PA -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney traveled here to Pennsylvania on Sunday for a trip that, in two days or so, would seem either prescient or desperate.

The focus remains on Ohio, but both candidates raced through battleground states in the final sprint to Election Day. Mitt Romney visited seven states where he conducted eight events. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.

The GOP nominee made a late personal appeal for Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes before a crowd of over 25,000. Romney's stop here in suburban Philadelphia marked his first stop in Pennsylvania since late September, and coincided with a last-minute advertising blitz from his campaign, the Republican National Committee and a supportive super PAC.

"This audience and your voices are being heard all over the nation. They’re being heard in my heart," Romney said, taking the stage on this frosty night. "The people of America understand we’re taking back the White House because we’re going to win Pennsylvania.”

The Romney campaign contended the trip was indicative of surging momentum for the Republican nominee, who could expand his pathway to the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency by winning the Keystone State.

"This is one of those states that came into view right after the first debate," Romney adviser Kevin Madden told reporters traveling with the candidate on Sunday. "And as a result it just presented a great opportunity. So we've seen that state just get closer and closer and closer."

Democrats contend Romney's move is a bluff -- a signal that pathways through other battleground states have been foreclosed. Nonetheless, the Obama campaign did spend money on television ads in the state, and are sending high-profile surrogates to the state to campaign on Obama's behalf.

History nonetheless suggests Pennsylvania will be an uphill climb for Romney. The state has reliably supported the Democratic nominee for president in every election since 1988, and in 2008 Sen. John McCain, too, made a late effort in the state, only to lose it by 10 points on Election Day.

But Romney has some advantages here that make the state a tempting target so late in the game. In addition to GOP ad spending in the state, Republicans won two major statewide races here in 2010, electing Sen. Pat Toomey and Gov. Tom Corbett. The Romney campaign also boasts of a robust ground-game here, in part as a holdover of those successes.

Romney delivered his closing argument speech here with a few Pennsylvania flourishes, hitting President Obama for what he called his "war on coal," and name dropping Chris Christie, the popular governor-next-door to this Philadelphia suburb.

The event's one spoiler: the weather. With Romney more than an hour late thanks to a ground stop at the Philadelphia airport, some frustrated and frozen supporters streamed out of the event while Romney spoke, many having arrived as early as two o'clock in the afternoon to secure seats on the bleachers and beat the crowds who ultimately packed the venue.