BOSTON — In Mitt Romney’s America, buses have wings. And jet engines. And they travel 500 miles an hour.
But Romney is putting a twist on what it means to go on a “bus tour” through the heartland.
On Friday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is launching a five-day bus tour across six battleground states, his first big sprint of campaigning since the GOP primaries. “Welcome to Day One of summer camp,” Rick Gorka, Romney’s traveling spokesman, told reporters gathered Friday morning for a pre-tour briefing at Romney campaign headquarters in Boston.
For the “Every Town Counts” bus tour, Romney will debut a new campaign bus wrapped with his campaign logo and iconic Midwestern images — a red barn, grain silos and the Ohio state capital.
But although Romney plans to ride between stops on his bus — family, friends and key surrogates like Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) will accompany him on each leg — he will board a chartered airplane at the end of each day to fly to the next state, according to aides.
The campaign leased multiple matching buses that will be pre-positioned along the route. “Three or four Romney buses will be leapfrogging around,” Gorka said.
Romney’s tour begins Friday in New Hampshire with a return to the farm in Stratham where he launched his campaign last June and an afternoon ice cream social in Milford. Romney campaigns across central Pennsylvania on Saturday, Ohio on Sunday, and Wisconsin and Iowa on Monday before ending in his native Michigan on Tuesday.
Romney is hardly the first candidate to include flights in his bus tour itinerary. Last summer, President Obama got heat when the government flew, not drove, his black armored campaign bus to Minnesota to ready for the president’s Midwestern bus tour.
A presidential campaign’s greatest asset is the candidate’s time. Why, for instance, would Romney drive the more than six hours between New Hampshire and Pennsylvania — through heavily Democratic states he is not contesting, no less (Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York) — when a plane can get him there in one hour?
To the efficient Romney team, of course, driving would be a waste.