HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Mitt Romney toured his Pennsylvania state headquarters and made phone calls to voters Thursday in his first swing into his rival Rick Santorum’s home state in almost a year, playing down his chances of winning the state’s upcoming primary but predicting victory in November.
Romney has shifted his focus to President Obama and the general election in recent days, coming off three victories in Republican primaries this week. His campaign announced Thursday morning that Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, would be serving as an advisor to the candidate, a sign that the party’s establishment is continuing to fall in line with the former Massachusetts governor.
However, Romney’s visit to Pennsylvania is very much a play to clinch the Republican nomination. A new poll out Thursday has shown Romney and Santorum in a close race. The survey from Democratic polling firm PPP showed Romney taking 42 percent of likely Republican voters compared to Santorum’s 37 percent, well within the automated poll’s 4.9 percent margin of error.
Romney said he didn’t expect to win the April 24 primary.
“I think everybody expects someone to win their home state,” Romney said to reporters during the phone bank. “Newt Gingrich won his state, I won my state, I think people expect Senator Santorum to win his home state, but I’ll pick up a lot of delegates, and we have several other states with contests the same day -- I hope to win all of those, and if I can win the others and pick up some delegates here, it will give me a stronger lead.”
In remarks on the rooftop of his downtown Harrisburg headquarters, Romney revved up supporters, saying he “needs some delegates” from Pennsylvania and predicting a win against Obama.
“The people of Pennsylvania, on Nov. 6, I believe will vote for me and give me the support I need to become the next president of the United States,” Romney said.
Romney joked that Obama may have “spent too much time at Harvard,” the university where the president got his law degree. Romney has two degrees from Harvard, in law and business.
One Santorum supporter said he came to get a feel for Romney.
“The mathematics of it is that Mitt Romney’s going to be the nominee,” said Andy Raymond, an East Berlin borough council member. “I’d like to drive a Mercedes but I’ve got a Subaru. That’s the way it is.”
Earlier, Romney spent about eight minutes making phone calls to three voters.
“Good morning, Lois,” Romney said into a campaign cellphone, sitting beside four volunteers. “This is Mitt Romney calling. How are you this morning? Well good. Have you ever heard of me? You have, huh? [laughs] Well, thank you. It sounds like you plan on supporting me, is that right? Well, wonderful, I appreciate your willingness to help out.”
Romney joked that he was making “stacked calls” because of the positive response he got from voters.
“That was a good call,” Romney said. “That was a person who said she believes I am the right person to be president, that I can save the country.”