POLITICS

Tightening polls give GOP hope in Pa.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Tightening independent polls are giving more hope to Republicans in Pennsylvania, but the presidential campaigns are showing no signs of bringing their candidates or TV ads back to the state with just three weeks until the election.

Despite Ann Romney's comments Monday that Pennsylvania is important to her husband's election prospects and "in play" in the presidential race, Mitt Romney has no immediate plans to step up his visits to the state or to purchase air time for campaign commercials, said Pennsylvania's Republican Party chairman, Rob Gleason.

Still, Gleason held out hope that Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, might yet make an appearance in the state before the Nov. 6 election.

"We can get a rally up in a day," he said. "I think they're going to come in the end."

Neither member of the Democratic ticket, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, has any plans to make a campaign trip to Pennsylvania, a campaign spokeswoman said.

Jim Burn, Gleason's Democratic counterpart, shrugged off the narrowing of the race as inevitable in the final weeks of the campaign.

But it also is "a strong reminder to our base and those who may have thought that this was over, you never quit campaigning, you never quit canvassing," he said.

Pennsylvania is tied with Illinois for the nation's fifth-biggest electoral prize in the presidential election and historically has been treated as a battleground state. But practically all of the ads in the presidential race ceased in August in Pennsylvania and visits by the presidential and vice presidential candidates have been few.

Romney's campaign hasn't advertised on television in Pennsylvania since April.

Instead, Pennsylvania's highest-profile politicians are finding themselves increasingly busy on the campaign trail, including Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, both Republicans, and former Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat.

In State College on Monday night, Toomey made time for a crowd of several dozen at a Centre County Republican Party dinner and told them that a sixth straight win for a Democrat in Pennsylvania's presidential election is not inevitable. After all, Pennsylvanians elected him and Corbett just two years ago, and 12 of 19 U.S. House seats are held by Republicans, he said.

"Don't tell me this is a blue state," Toomey told the crowd.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed a narrowing race between Obama and Romney. The poll said 50 percent of likely voters support Obama, versus 46 percent for Romney. Three weeks ago, Quinnipiac reported Obama with 54 percent to Romney's 42 percent.

The race for U.S. Senate also appears to be narrowing. Quinnipiac's survey showed Democratic Sen. Bob Casey with 48 percent, versus Republican challenger Tom Smith's 45 percent. Quinnipiac's Aug. 1 survey showed Casey with a big lead, 55 percent to Smith's 37 percent.

A Muhlenberg College poll released Monday showed similar numbers.

Romney and Ryan have each visited Pennsylvania once since July. Obama hasn't campaigned in Pennsylvania since June. Biden was in the Philadelphia area Tuesday for the funeral of former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. He last campaigned in the state in September.

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