If there are any doubts about how hard Republican Mitt Romney is fighting for Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, his travel schedule should put them to rest.
Romney will hold a campaign event in Chesterfield County on Friday. It will be Romney’s third campaign stop in Virginia this week and his fifth since his debate last week with President Barack Obama. Romney delivered a major foreign policy speech at Virginia Military Institute on Monday before attending a campaign event in Newport News.
Obama won Virginia in 2008, the first time in 44 years that a Democrat carried the state. Romney has made more trips to the state than John McCain did in 2008, and Republicans said they have put together a more effective ground operation in the state than they did four years ago.
In a conference call today, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said party volunteers have made contact with 4 million voting-age Virginia residents by phone or by door-knocking. That far exceeds the party’s outreach efforts of four years ago, he said.
Rich Beeson, the Romney campaign’s political director, said voter contacts are a more effective measure of organizational strength than the amount of staff and offices a campaign has in the state.
“The Obama campaign talks about the number of staff and offices they have in every state,” Beeson said. “That’s their metric. That’s what they’ll talk about is how many staff and how many offices they have.”
Beeson said Romney’s campaign has the resources to have as many paid staff and offices in the state but “we just choose not to.”
“We choose to work smarter and simpler, and you can see in the public and the private polling the nunber of people in the commonwealth who say that they’ve been contacted by either the Romney campaign or the Obama campaign is virtually equal,” Beeson said.
During a brief question-and-answer session, Beeson identified Southwest Virginia — particularly the coalfields region — as a region where he expects strong support for Romney. Romney campaigned in Abingdon last Friday and has been running ads depicting Obama as an enemy of the coal industry.
“Anybody in coal country voting for Barack Obama is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders,” Beeson said.
Adam Hodge, a regional spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, questioned the legitimacy of the GOP’s claims about voter contacts. Hodge cited last week’s news that the GOP had severed ties with a consulting firm that had been hired to register voters in Virginia and other states because of allegations of election fraud in Florida.
“While Romney campaign has been paying political consultants to knock on doors and send out robocalls, Obama supporters have been working for more than three years to organize their neighborhoods, recruit new volunteers, and build the largest grassroots campaign in history,” Hodge wrote in an email.
– Michael Sluss