(CBS News) CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Mitt Romney may have taken the day off today to go ski boating, but, in Charlotte, his campaign is hard at work showboating.
Though Romney spent Monday at his New Hampshire lake house, Republican supporters have converged in North Carolina just blocks from the Democratic National Convention to get their message out. This afternoon, Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, held a press conference where they touted Romney and trounced on the president and his supporters.
"If the election were held today, we'd be winning today," declared Priebus, adding that the states he thinks Romney currently has in the bag are Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin and Virginia. Meanwhile, Chaffetz slammed the president for a lack of leadership, particularly with regard to failing to get a budget passed through the Senate. "Other than the Wednesday night bingo and wheelchair races, I have a hard time figuring out what they actually do in the United States Senate on a day to day basis," he opined. "The thrill and pixie dust of Barack Obama's presidency are gone," said Priebus.
The press conference was the first in the RNC's plan to hold daily briefings throughout the week at their Charlotte headquarters, which they've set up at the NASCAR Hall of Fame downtown. The building is now a two-floor office to around two dozen Romney and RNC staffers who have flown in by way of D.C., Boston, and Tampa. On the ground level, they've got two makeshift TV studios, with GOP cameras and a control room at the ready as well as a team charged with booking Romney supporters for interviews. Upstairs in the main war room, 42 sheets of paper are hung with the every month since President Obama has been in office written out - to represent 42 straight months of unemployment being over 8 percent.
As many delegates and news organizations have been griping, accommodations in Charlotte close to the convention center are hard to come by. As a result, GOP staffers are splayed across town - some staying in hotels, some have rented a condo, some are even staying at the childhood home of a North Carolina field staffer whose parents are accommodating their son's co-workers.
Though the RNC began to scout locations for this operation well before they had a presumptive nominee, it was shortly after Romney was at the top of the ticket that the campaign and party settled upon the NASCAR venue. Both insist that it almost entirely came down to the building's proximity to downtown Charlotte. "The fact that the opposition party has some of the best space in the city is pretty incredible," Priebus told CBS News.
Romney himself has a somewhat tempestuous relationship with the NASCAR brand, however. Romney is a self-proclaimed "car guy," and has received a great deal of support from prominent figures in the NASCAR community. Less than three weeks ago, he held a fundraiser with them in Charlotte and raised $1.5m. However, his relationship with those donors has had its downfalls as well. In February, Romney was asked if he followed NASCAR. "Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans," he responded, continuing, "But I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners." The Obama campaign was quick to use this line to exacerbate a problem that Romney faces with middle class voters, who feel his wealth disconnects him from ordinary Americans.
The GOP, however, hardly seems concerned about the optics, instead enjoying the very visible opportunity to counter the Democrats at their convention, one week after their own. They've put in a lot of work but are also making time for fun and games - happily handing out Legos emblazoned with the president's now infamous "You didn't build that" line to those who care to join them at their playground. Additionally, GOP vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has scheduled events this week in North Carolina.
Republicans aren't alone in crashing the other party's party. The Democratic National Committee last week rented out a storefront space in Tampa, Fla., for its own "war room" just outside the RNC's security campus. Though a visit by Vice President Joe Biden was canceled due to weather, other members of the opposition made appearances, including former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.