White House senior adviser David Plouffe on television Sunday morning said it was a “desperate ploy” to have Romney travel to a state “he’s not going to win.”
But where Democrats see desperation, Republicans see opportunity.
Romney “relates better to those folks in the collar counties than any other recent GOP candidate,” said Billy Pitman, the Romney campaign communications director for Pennsylvania. “The day after they saw him unfiltered in that first debate, we had a couple hundred people volunteer across the state.”
The Republicans took note that about 85,000 Democrats who voted in the state’s primary didn’t cast a ballot for Obama, an undervote that they theorize shows a lack of confidence in the president’s leadership that they can build upon, particularly in the coal counties bordering Ohio, Pitman says.
Shapiro, who never voices anything but confidence, doesn’t buy it.
“I really don’t think this race has changed that much,” he said. Citing Romney’s attempt to court moderates and independents, he said: “He has extreme positions on choice and on gay marriage, and there is vast regional distaste for that here, including with moderate Republican women. I don’t see him catching fire in the suburbs, and if you don't catch fire here” in the four counties ringing Philadelphia, with their third of the total state vote, “you don’t win.”
Obama won Montgomery County by 20 percentage points — and nearly 87,000 votes — in 2008. He won Pennsylvania by 10 points, and the votes that piled up just in Montgomery, Delaware and Philadelphia counties compensated for his losses elsewhere in the state.
At 39, Shapiro is the first Democrat in 140 years to chair the three-person board of commissioners that runs the state’s third most populous county.
That is why he brought candidates including Schwartz, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. and state candidates for attorney general and auditor general to the condo building’s basement and later led them into the shops of nearby Keswick Village.
On Saturday, he made two appearances with second lady Jill Biden to pump up voters and continued to campaign with Casey, who has seen slippage in his reelection lead over Republican Tom Smith, a coal-mining executive who is a tea party favorite. On Sunday, there were three more events, including a rally at the University of Pennsylvania that drew a crowd of 25,000.
At the Keswick Tavern on Friday, where Halloween lights were still strung and the sandbags still piled up outside, and where grateful Hurricane Sandy refugees had availed themselves of the 24 beer labels on tap through a hard week, the retail politicking paused for a toast.
Tasting glasses of ale were poured. The politicians lifted theirs into the air.
“To Election Day!” said Leslie Richards, vice chairman of the board of commissioners. “And to having power at all the polling places.”