NORFOLK, Va. - Mitt Romney and his new running mate embark Saturday on a bus tour that will bring them to 12 cities in four swing states, all of which President Obama won during the 2008 election and all of which remain competitive today.
The tour the campaign has dubbed the "Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" starts with a bang at the USS Wisconsin, where Romney will appear with his newly-named running mate Rep. Paul Ryan of -- you guessed it -- Wisconsin.
The tour marks a ramping-up of Romney's public schedule, which slowed considerably after his first bus tour brought him to 14 cities in six states over a five-day period in late June. Since then, Romney has held just 20 campaign events across the country, as he took time off for a vacation, focused on fundraising and spent a much-publicized week abroad.
"It's great to be out campaigning," Romney told reporters on his charter flight from Bedford, Mass., to Norfolk on Friday evening. "You know a lot of campaigning is raising money, which has its own rewards, honestly, but campaigning is the most fun. The most enjoyable and rewarding."
Romney's upcoming sojourn -- which one of his aides called a "blue state tour" -- will bring him to Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio over a four-day period. In all but North Carolina, Romney finds himself trailing Obama in recent polling, a fact that Romney advisers shrug off. They point to a decline in Obama's 2012 polling numbers in each state relative to how he did in 2008.
"In 2008 these states were all won by Obama, but this time around his support has eroded considerably," Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters in Boston on Friday. "Even though his team is pouring tons of resources into these states, the bad economy continues to hang over Obama like a dark cloud."
Another adviser, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, pointed to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll showing Republican voters to be more enthusiastic about voting this year than Democrats. "It reinforces that point that the intensity in this election is behind the Republicans," said the adviser.