TAMPA – When Mitt Romney returns to battleground Ohio on Friday night, it won’t be for just any humdrum rally. The affair, save for the absence of actor Clint Eastwood, is shaping up as the sequel to the Republican National Convention.
Nearly 100 governors, senators, congressmen, mayors, Olympic gold medalists and other Republican luminaries are scheduled to join Romney and his vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), in a Cincinnati suburb Friday night for a huge rally designed both to inject new energy into their Ohio campaign and to launch the Republican ticket on its final, frenetic three days of barnstorming before Election Day.
Kicking off what the Romney campaign is dubbing the “Romney-Ryan Real Recovery Road Rally,” the event will be held in West Chester, just outside of Cincinnati, a populous and potentially decisive swath of southwestern Ohio where Romney needs to drive up turnout within his conservative base and win over moderate suburban voters.
The campaign announced that almost every Romney surrogate – from the candidate’s wife, Ann, and their five sons to a number of Olympic athletes to a lengthy roster of elected officials, including Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee – will attend, underscoring the importance of Ohio’s 18 electoral votes to Romney’s calculations.
From West Chester, the surrogates will fan out across the nation to campaign over the weekend in 11 key states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
This is a big push by the Republicans to demonstrate fresh momentum at the end of a week in which the race seems to have stalled amid the devastating storm that wreaked havoc across the Eastern Seaboard.
The rally will be held at 7:30 p.m. at The Square at Union Centre, a large outdoor gathering space in downtown West Chester, which is the hometown of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R). The same venue hosted then-vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in October 2008, where she took the stage to “Eye of the Tiger” and rallied a crowd of about 10,000.
In addition to Mitt and Ann Romney and Paul and Janna Ryan, the Romney campaign has announced that the following surrogates will attend: McCain and his wife, Cindy; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Marco Rubio (Fla.), John Thune (S.D.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.); former senator Norm Coleman (Minn.); former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah); former congressman Artur Davis (Ala.); Olympic champion speed skater Derek Parra; Olympic champion figure skater Scott Hamilton; champion golfer Jack Nicklaus; as well as Tagg and Jen Romney, Matt and Laurie Romney, Josh Romney, Ben Romney and Craig and Mary Romney.