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Wisconsin may no longer be sure bet for Obama

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President Obama, who has focused his re-election campaign on a handful of swing states, is making a detour into what should have been safe, friendly ground, but which may now be a major state in play: Wisconsin.

Obama continues to lead Republican Mitt Romney in traditionally blue Wisconsin, polls consistently show. And he's maintained that lead even after Romney picked Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, as his running mate.

But the president's current standing in the Badger State - a 6-point lead, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls -- isn't nearly the 14-point edge he had over Republican John McCain in 2008. Moreover, Wisconsin has experienced a Republican resurgence headed by Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker that has conservatives bullish about a possible upset there.

Romney's campaign, meanwhile, is starting to shift resources from other states to Wisconsin and dispatched Ryan to the state several times.

"Paul Ryan can win this state for him," said GOP consultant Scott Becher. "But it's a schizophrenic kind of thing. People love Paul Ryan here but not Romney so much. If Ryan wasn't on the ticket, I don't think Romney would be competitive."

In addition to running on the presidential ticket, Ryan is also running for re-election to Congress in Wisconsin. As a part of his House campaign, he is running television ads that will remind voters that Ryan is a native son, potentially helping bolster turnout for Romney.

Obama will campaign in Milwaukee on Saturday, where he will "lay out what's at stake for middle-class families and his plan to continue to restore middle-class security," according to his campaign. Underscoring the possibility that Wisconsin could be less than a sure thing for Obama, Ann Romney will be campaigning for her husband at Marquette University in Milwaukee on Thursday.

Saturday's trip will be Obama's first to Wisconsin this campaign. The president angered some Democrats because he didn't go to Wisconsin earlier this year to help labor unions fighting in a recall election of Walker, who easily survived.

Obama's campaign-trail trek comes as Romney makes a concerted effort to bring Wisconsin, a state that hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, into the GOP fold.

Romney's campaign team has taken some of the resources previously devoted to Michigan and Pennsylvania and pumped them into Wisconsin, a campaign aide said. Paired with the GOP ground organization built during the state's recall election, Romney's team believes the state's 10 electoral votes are within reach.

In addition, Restore our Future, the largest super-PAC backing Romney's candidacy, spent $820,000 on television ads in Wisconsin earlier this week.

Democrats dismissed the chances of a Republican takeover of Wisconsin.

"I see very little chance that Wisconsin goes Republican," a top Democratic strategist told The Washington Examiner. "If there was a Ryan bounce, we already saw it. If anything, Wisconsin, even more so than other battlegrounds, is trending in the president's direction. Romney is no Paul Ryan. He's no Scott Walker -- it ain't happening."

bhughes@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner