ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney assured supporters on Monday, the eve of the second presidential debate, that he has not given up on the state and its precious payload of 20 electoral votes.
At a campaign rally at Elizabethtown College and in interviews with Lancaster and Pittsburgh TV stations and a Philadelphia radio station, Ann Romney said emphatically that Pennsylvania is key to Mitt Romney's strategy heading into the final three weeks of the campaign.
"This is an important state for us," she told an adoring crowd of what organizers said was about 900 people at the college rally. "We care about Pennsylvania, and we care about Pennsylvanians."
She said on a talk show on radio station WPHT-AM that the state is "in play," citing a boost her husband received from the first debate.
"You know, the debate was huge, and we've seen our numbers move all across the country, but in particular Pennsylvania is in play," she said.
She made her comments amid persistent appeals by state Republican leaders for Mitt Romney's campaign to return to the state, with its millions of dollars in TV advertising, to campaign aggressively and to bolster the election prospects of fellow GOP candidates for U.S. Senate, state attorney general and other top offices.
Ann Romney, asked by WGAL-TV in an interview before the rally whether she believes Pennsylvania is in play, said, "I certainly do. That's why I'm here, and there's a strong message out there some states that didn't look like they were in play before and are in play again now."
State GOP Chairman Rob Gleason asserted that the party is closing the gap in major races, while Republican Gov. Tom Corbett urged people at the rally to make a point of talking about the campaign with undecided independents and Democrats in an effort to win their votes in the Nov. 6 election.
All five of Ann and Mitt Romney's sons will attend Tuesday night's town hall debate between the candidate and President Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island, she said.
"Mitt's prepared. Mitt's confident. Mitt's got a good presence about him and is running because he believes in America," his wife said.
Ann Romney spoke for only 15 minutes at the rally, but she was repeatedly interrupted by applause.
Ralph Clouser, a 71-year-old retired math teacher from Elizabethtown, said he attended the rally just to see her.
"Let's face it. ... behind every successful man is a good woman. I think she really enhances his stature quite a bit," said Clouser, who operates his own tax service.