WASHINGTON -- The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee have more than 60 staffers in Pennsylvania for the closing two weeks of the presidential election, a RNC official told The Huffington Post.
The official added that they are planning how many more to add as Republicans begin to view the Keystone State as in play this November. It's not entirely clear whether the staffing is being done as a head-fake for Democrats or out of general electoral optimism.
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign had previously moved its Pennsylvania communications director to Virginia. That communications director was recently caught tweeting from Virginia even as vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was appearing at a Pittsburgh-area rally. Romney's team, moreover, has far fewer campaign events planned for the state than the Obama campaign does, according to each candidate's website.
But with polling showing an increasingly tight race in the state, it appears that both campaigns are reconsidering their approach. President Barack Obama's campaign, for instance, recently sent out an email to supporters in Pennsylvania asking them to host volunteers and organizers in the weeks leading up to the election. Republican pollsters, meanwhile, have been telling operatives that Romney is within striking distance of Obama there.
There is another explanation for why Republicans would move staffers to Pennsylvania. It is home to a surprisingly close Senate contest. Coal magnate Tom Smith, having poured millions of his own money into the race, is running tight with Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D). RNC staffers could help with that race in addition to aiding Romney.
They certainly have the money. The RNC had $86.2 million cash on hand heading into October, and there are limits to how much it can spend on advertisements for Romney.
In the end, however, the state's demographics favor the Obama campaign, with Democratic registration outnumbering Republican registration at, about, a 4-to-3 ratio. And while that number can be overcome with a strong showing among independent voters, two weeks is not a lot of time to put together a statewide operation.
“The RNC can act on the whims of a couple erratic polls, but they can’t match the real grassroots ground operation that the president has built over the last five years," said an Obama campaign staffer. "Mitt Romney and the GOP failed to close the over 1 million person voter registration advantage Democrats have in the state, despite having a yearlong competitive primary. If the GOP were as serious about Pennsylvania as the RNC would like us to think, then Mitt Romney’s wouldn’t have deployed key staff to other states in recent days.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said that the Romney campaign and the RNC planned to send 60-plus staffers to Pennsylvania. In fact, there are already 60 staffers in the state and their plan is to send additional staff, adding to the 60.