Mitt Romney has been snubbing his own backyard of New Hampshire in favor of do-or-die states such as Ohio, putting a win in the battleground Granite State on the back burner even as his campaign sought to expand into Democratic turf yesterday by purchasing campaign ads in Pennsylvania.
"Obama's been here four or five times since Labor Day, and Romney has only been here once," said Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire's Survey Center. "I don't think they've given up on New Hampshire, I just think there are other states they are much more focused on."
Obama outpaced Romney in ad buys in the Granite State by 5-to-1, said Smith, until this week, when Romney began airing several ads in the Boston media market. The emphasis on other swing states indicates a laser-like focus on clinching 270 electoral votes, Smith said.
"I think that's why he's not investing as much time and resources in New Hampshire than in other states. If he wins Ohio, he has a much better chance," Smith said.
Romney remains nearly neck-and-neck with Obama in New Hampshire, with Obama holding only a 2 percentage point edge, according to a realclearpolitics.com average of recent polls.
Romney was scheduled to campaign in New Hampshire last night, but had to cancel because of Hurricane Sandy. He does have a stop planned for Monday in Manchester with Kid Rock.
Romney campaign strategist Tom Rath said the former Massachusetts governor aims to win New Hampshire's 4 electoral votes, but could still earn the Oval Office without it.
"If you're asking if he can win the election without New Hampshire, then yes he can, but I want him to win it with New Hampshire," Rath said, pointing out that the campaign has sent out seven mailings, knocked on countless doors and done telephone banks. "We're very competitive and we intend to win this state."
Meanwhile, Romney all but declared war on the Democratic stronghold of Pennsylvania yesterday, launching an ad buy and releasing a campaign memo from political director Rich Beeson that listed both Pennsylvania and New Hampshire as competitive states that team Obama was once sure it would win.
"While the Obama campaign would like to wish it is 2008, the reality is that they are now forced to 'play defense' in at least six states (Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa and Wisconsin) that they once believed were 'safe' Obama wins," Beeson wrote.
Obama's campaign dismissed the Pennsylvania ad buys, as well as Romney's spending in Michigan and Minnesota, as fruitless.
"Now, like Republicans did in 2008, they are throwing money at states where they never built an organization and have been losing for two years. Let's be very clear, the Romney campaign and its allies' decision to go up with advertising in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota is a decision made out of weakness, not strength," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement.
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