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Pennsylvania in Play? Pennsylvania in Play?

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Pennsylvania in Play?

July 17, 2012
Just six weeks ago, conventional wisdom was that Pennsylvania was off the table. Mitt Romney's campaign didn't list it as a top target, and his state chairman said the GOP nominee himself was skeptical he could win there. A Republican nominee hasn't won the state since 1988 and it didn't look like 2012 would be any different.

Today the picture does look different. The Rust Belt has been getting a lot of attention from both campaigns as they court white, blue-collar voters. Romney is holding a rally in Irwin, PA, Tuesday afternoon, and President Obama's campaign announced it is running a tough new anti-Romney ad exclusively in the state. Pro-Romney super PACs are also spending money there.

What gives? Well for one thing, unemployment in the state rose in June to 7.6 percent from 7.4 percent.

"I think the state is in play,'' said Republican strategist Ray Zaborney, who is based in Harrisburg. "It's not like Colorado, Florida or Ohio but as the economy flat lines I think people are treating it as if there's an opportunity for Romney.''

Zaborney doesn't expect the kind of attention that President George W. Bush gave the state during his re-election campaign, when he came 35 times, "but I think you'll see Obama and Romney spend more time here.'' Romney is in the western part of the state today, in Westmoreland County, where Democratic voters dominate but Republicans have been making inroads over the past decade.
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