TRAVELING WITH THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN – On the final day of campaigning, the Romney camp is approaching the finish line with cautious confidence.
“I’m not over confident, but we are going to win Florida,” Romney campaign top strategist Stuart Stevens told WND at a rally in Orlando this morning.
On a day that would not end until after midnight, the campaign is holding five rallies in states key to a Romney win – Florida, Ohio and Virginia – along with an 11 p.m. stop in Manchester, N.H., the town where the Romney began his run for president two years ago.
At the Orlando airport rally, the senior Romney team standing in the background looked quietly satisfied with the road traveled.
“Don’t you just love this guy?” Stevens quietly asked WND, particularly happy with how Romney had delivered a modification Stevens had just made to the stump speech.
With every appearance, Romney has appeared more comfortable and looked more presidential.
“I can tell you one thing about this guy,” Ann Romney told an Ohio rally Sunday, speaking of her husband, “he will always stand by my side and he will always do what is right for America.”
“I’ve seen him in so many situations – as a husband, a father, a businessman, a governor, someone who turned around the Olympics – and I will say this: He does not fail!”
At that, Ann Romney introduced her husband as “the next president of the United States” to strong and sustained applause from an audience of some 10,000 supporters.
Romney accompanied his wife from the podium.
“You guys are fabulous,” he told the Ohio crowd, beginning a stump speech that has changed subtly as the campaign has progressed to reflect his sharpening vision for the next four years.
“Your voices are being heard all over the nation.”
Firing up the ground troops
On Election Day, Romney will travel to Cleveland and Pittsburgh to encourage the get-out-the-vote staffers and volunteers in the crucial swing-state of Ohio and in Pennsylvania, where he is competing in a state GOP presidential candidates haven’t won since 1988.
Internal campaign polling, according to the London Daily Mail’s Toby Harnden, shows Romney up one point in Ohio and tied in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In 2008, by contrast, Obama defeated John McCain in Wisconsin by nearly 14 percentage points, Pennsylvania by more than 13 and Ohio by four.
As the campaign left George Mason University in Fairfax County, Va., near Washington, Stevens confirmed to WND that the Romney camp will not campaign tomorrow.
“We have thousands of volunteers, and Gov. Romney wants to appear in person at victory centers in Ohio and Pennsylvania to be there to cheer on the troops,” he said.
A senior campaign official who asked not to be named told WND that Romney has gained energy from the series of large and enthusiastic rallies and wants to be in the field on Election Day.
See WND video of the George Mason rally:
Campaign spokesmen, peppered with questions from the largely Obama-supporting establishment media traveling with the campaign, denied that the campaign was acting in a desperate fashion.
Stevens and Romney campaign manager Kevin Madden told WND the campaign remains confident of victory in Ohio, and it is not an act of desperation to want to work until the polls close.
‘The silent majority’
The first three rallies held by Romney today produced large and enthusiastic crowds, with the rally in Fairfax, Va., packing a crowd of some 10,000 cheering supporters at the Patriot Center at George Mason University.
Several thousand supporters, who were prevented by fire regulations from being allowed inside, stood on the roadway to the university to cheer Romney’s motorcade as it wound its way to the Patriot Center.
Somehow, the man the Obama campaign has tried to frame as wealthy and aloof, has found a way to connect with what Richard Nixon used to call “the silent majority” – the hard-working, God-fearing middle class that establishment media in Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles often dismiss as “fly-over” America.
Even after the first debate, when Obama was the candidate who appeared aloof, virtually all the reporters riding Romney’s plane from state to state refused to believe Obama could lose.
In the final days of the 2012 presidential campaign, the traveling media observed the candidate’s decision to hold rallies in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, states once considered safe for Obama.
Reporters from the New York Times and the Washington Post were skeptical.
At a backstage gaggle Sunday in Cleveland, campaign manager Madden was asked if Romney’s decision to campaign in Obama territory was a sign internal polls showed Romney losing Ohio or possibly Florida.
“Is this a strategy to open up a new pathway to the White House, knowing the polls in Iowa show you are losing?” Madden was asked.
Media appeared to be looking for the slightest bit of confirmation that would permit them to publish a headline such as “Romney campaign abandons Ohio in desperate bid for Pennsylvania.”
But Madden knew the game.
“No,” he said firmly. “We’re going to win Ohio. The beauty of a successful campaign is that you get the opportunity to reach beyond your strength into your opponent’s territory to look for votes.”
Madden had explained to WND that internal polls for Ohio were quite good for Romney, and his focus on developing and using the nation’s abundant coal reserves was resonating in Pennsylvania.
In the Keystone State, Obama’s energy policy has been termed a “War on Coal” that had already cost the state thousands of jobs, with the prospect of an Obama re-election costing thousands more.
Madden also knows that contesting Pennsylvania forces the Obama brain trust of David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Jim Messina to divert the precious, rapidly dwindling resources of time and money.
Romney has been pushing himself to the end.
Campaigning on Sunday did not end in Orlando until 2 a.m., after rallies in Des Moines and Cleveland, followed by 35,000 people showing up in Bucks County, Pa., for a rally at which the Marshall Tucker Band played. He ended the day with an airport hanger rally in Newport News, Va., that did not begin until nearly 11 p.m.
What the Romney team knew was that each appearance in Pennsylvania generated sound bites of Romney’s speech on the local news, showing residents the candidate is serious about winning their vote.
The Romney campaign also knew Obama was not pushing himself nearly as hard.
On the final day, when the former Massachusetts governor had five campaign appearances scheduled, Obama had only three.