Pa. among "reach" states tempting Romney camp

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

This article originally appeared on RealClearPolitics.

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. If Mitt Romney were to make a last-minute move to expand his electoral map, Ground Zero for that effort likely would be here amid the suburban sprawl of Montgomery County, outside of Philadelphia.

But as about 20 Obama campaign volunteers gathered Thursday night for another evening of phone-banking, there was little concern among the Democratic partisans inside Dave Hopkins' actuarial office just off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Confidence about the president carrying Pennsylvania has always been high here, as he has not trailed in a single state poll since February and leads Romney by 4.8 percentage points in the latest RCP Average.

But there is added reason for Obama's Keystone State legions to feel optimistic with just a week and a half to go until Election Day: The Romney camp has not aired a single TV ad in Pennsylvania, and the former Massachusetts governor has not set foot here in a month.

"If he thought he could win, Romney would be doing something really strong here, and he's not," said Cindy Bellamy, the local neighborhood team leader for the Obama campaign. "And that's because he doesn't have any hope."

Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, did hold a rally in the Pittsburgh suburb of Moon Township last Saturday, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Friday headlined a campaign bus tour through western Pennsylvania with former Gov. Tom Ridge, Pittsburgh Steelers great Lynn Swann, and other Republican surrogates.

But Mary Isenhour, a longtime Democratic strategist in the state, said the GOP nominee's campaign here has been as quiet as she has ever seen one at this stage of the game. Isenhour did not even feign concern that a last-minute Romney blitz could close the gap.

"This is a really big state with a whole lot of people in it," she said. "You can't drop 60 or 80 people here, even with three or four weeks, and expect to deliver anything. It just doesn't work that way."

But Republicans insist they see glimmers of hope both here and in Michigan -- Romney's birth state and another potentially inviting late target, where he trails by an even smaller margin of 4 percent in the latest RCP Average.

In a phone interview on Friday, Priebus noted that public polls showed both states trending in the challenger's direction.

"The one thing to keep in mind in Michigan and Pennsylvania is we have spent boatloads of money on the ground here," Priebus said. "I mean, we've got victory centers everywhere here, we've spent millions on mail, volunteers. So the amount of money we're spending in Pennsylvania and Michigan is probably more money than we've spent in '08 and '04, so we're already committed here. The question is how much more do you go on the air, and I think that's a question we're going to answer in the next few days, obviously."

Priebus said there was still "plenty of time" to decide on an ad blitz in Pennsylvania and Michigan -- especially the former, where over 90 percent of voters are expected to cast their ballots on Election Day.

  • Scott Conroy On Twitter»

    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.