By Dan Balz, Jerry Markon and Paul Kane
The Washington Post
After a season dominated by talk of Ohio, Virginia and Florida, Campaign 2012 suddenly shifted focus to a new trio of states Wednesday amid a new verbal battle about which candidate is better positioned to win on Tuesday.
The new geographic front in the political war focuses on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, three states that have backed Democrats dating back at least to 1988 but which Republicans say are ripe for GOP nominee Mitt Romney in his challenge to President Barack Obama.
Republican super PACs have been advertising in those states for some time, and Romney’s campaign has joined in two of them, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, but not Michigan as of Wednesday.
Money spent in unexpected places by the campaigns or their super PACs says little at this point. That’s because, unlike in past presidential campaigns, both sides are flush with cash and have extra funds to play with down the stretch.
The fact that Romney’s campaign has put some money into ads in Minnesota and now Pennsylvania doesn’t say a lot so far, and the fact that his campaign has not put money into ads in Michigan may say more about the campaign’s assessment of the electoral map.
Still, Romney advisers said the action in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan showed that Republicans are expanding the electoral map and have more options to get to 270 electoral votes.
“I think we’re in a great position to win,” Romney senior adviser Russ Schriefer told reporters during a conference call, citing Republican enthusiasm and the fact that the president is not above 50 percent in recent polls of those states. “Can we win all of them? Probably not,” he added. “Can we win some of them? I think probably so.”