One week from Election Day, President Barack Obama campaign’s message to reporters is this: Don’t let Mitt Romney’s campaign fool you.
“The final days of this campaign are data and facts on our side versus spin and wishful thinking on theirs,” said Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina on a Monday morning call with reporters.
The campaign said that early voting numbers and data from key states show that they’re winning the race, despite tight polls in some swing states.
The call came hours after the Obama camp announced that Bill Clinton would be making a stop in Minnesota on Tuesday. The event is part of a broader tour that includes battleground states Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
The Obama campaign did not take any questions about Clinton’s stop in Minnesota.
Over the last four days, the Romney and Obama campaigns have been sending mixed signals about Minnesota’s importance in their respective strategies.
Up until now, the state has leaned solidly toward Obama, and the Obama campaign has been careful to say that they are not concerned about winning Minnesota, but are not taking the state for granted either.
But a new Star Tribune poll shows that Obama has a lead of 3 percentage points, within the survey’s margin of error.
On Friday, the Romney campaign announced it would be spending about $30,000 on advertising in the Twin Cities market. It marks the first time Romney has spent any cash on advertising here since the start of the race, though groups critical of Obama’s record have been piling millions into the Twin Cities market for months.
“The Romney campaign wants you to think it’s expanding the map, but it’s not,” said Messina. “A month ago they were going to surge in Michigan, and then they weren’t. A couple of weeks ago, they were going to surge in Maine, too, and then they weren’t. And they were trying to convince you guys last week about Minnesota, but then they bought 350 points in Wisconsin play. The reason why they need to expand the map is because they are down in the places where they need to get 270 electoral votes.”
The Twin Cities market overlaps with western Wisconsin, which is an important state for both candidates.
In fact, shortly after Romney announced his last-minute ad buy here, the Obama campaign said it was doing its own advertising as well, but stressed that it’s targeted at the Wisconsin market, not at Minnesota voters.
Federal Communications Commission records show that Obama is on track to spend $360,000 in the Twin Cities media market between now and Election Day – 12 times larger than Romney’s $30,000 ad buy here.
Obama senior strategist David Axelrod said the ad buy is meant to keep up with Romney in Wisconsin.
“In their never-ending quest to find some place to make up for everything they’re losing elsewhere they went on in Minneapolis, and I think, largely to influence that portion of Wisconsin that’s hit by the Minneapolis media market,” Axelrod said. “We went up as well in keeping with our policy that we’re not going to surrender any territory there.”
Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Pat Shortridge says it’s clear that Clinton’s Tuesday visit is a clear sign the Obama campaign is worried about the race:
“If it’s not a competitive race, I would simply ask ‘Why are they sending President Clinton, their most popular politician to Minnesota on Tuesday.’ Clearly, they have any number of places they could be sending him, yet they choose to send him to Minnesota. It shows me they know the race is close here…They know frankly that the President has had a really hard time, both nationally and in many of the key competitive states, the president has had a really hard time getting over 47 percent.”
Shortridge said there are late-breaking states in every election cycle that end up backing an unexpected candidate. This may be Minnesota’s year, Shortridge said.
“Minnesota is long overdue to go back in the Republican column come Nov. 6,” he said.